Bid program adds new wrinkle to ongoing repair issues

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

YARMOUTH, Maine – Between the uncertain future of the nation’s largest mobility provider and the July 1 start of Round 2 of competitive bidding, there is a “perfect storm” of issues related to repairs, say providers. 

“It’s been bad since the Scooter Store (began having trouble), and bidding is just making it worse,” said provider Bob Miller, president and CEO of Hackettstown, N.J-based Bachs Home Health Care, which is not a contract supplier. 

Providers have always been leery of repairing wheelchairs they didn’t provide, because Medicare can rescind payments for repairs if the original documentation doesn’t hold up.

With The Scooter Store in no position to provide documentation, it’s been a rough summer for their former customers needing repairs, providers say

“They don’t know if the wheelchair was appropriate,” said Jim Travis, president of West Seneca, N.Y.-based Buffalo Wheelchair, not a contract supplier. “You need to establish medical necessity, and you can’t if you don’t have the paperwork to back it up.”

Compounding the problem: Round 2 has sharply reduced the pool of providers, and not all the contract suppliers are willing provide repairs, providers say.

“A lot of these companies bid for wheelchairs to get the chance to sell them, but they have no intention of doing repairs,” said Carl Mulberry, president of Columbus, Ohio-based Columbus Medical Equipment, not a contract supplier. “They have no repair department, no repairmen and no replacement parts. It is a mess.”

The problem is further complicated by large numbers of contract suppliers who were awarded out-of-state contracts, providers say. 

“A lot of these bid winners do not have a physical location in the area,” Travis said. “You can’t do repairs through the Internet.”