Friday, December 31, 2004

GAO slams CMS for lax power chair oversight

WASHINGTON - CMS has made gains correcting in-house problems that lead to skyrocketing power wheelchair utilization, but it still has a long way to go, according to a critical new report from the GAO released last month. The DMERCs began warning CMS about escalated spending for power wheelchairs in 1997. CMS officials, however, ignored the warnings until September 2003 when the giant Wheeler Dealer fraud scandal broke out in Harris County, Texas. Since then, CMS has taken steps to combat fraud, but still has much to do, the GAO reported in “CMS’s Program Safeguards Did Not Deter Growth in Spending for Power Wheelchairs.” The report recommended, among other things, that CMS: 1. create a new CMN that collects better information for claims review; 2. provide more clear coverage criteria.
NCART plans D.C. rehab fair

WASHINGTON - The National Coalition for Assistive Rehab Technology has scheduled a congressional fly-in and technology fair for Feb. 15 to convince lawmakers that custom rehab is service intensive and should not be part of a Medicare competitive bidding program. Attendees will escort their representatives to the fair, where they will be turned over to clinicians who will show the reps high-end products and describe the process of fitting a client for the appropriate chair, said NCART Executive Director Sharon Hildebrandt. “We want to show them so they can understand.”
Rick Perrotta is the Repair Man

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Rick Perrotta has built a profitable rehab niche doing what most providers prefer to avoid: Repairing wheelchairs. At last count, the president of Network Medical Supply generated about one-third of his $2 million in annual revenue from his repair work. Because reimbursement is typically low for repair work, many providers decline to actively pursue it. “But if you do it right, the economies of doing repairs work out quite well,” said Perrotta. “It might be that your profits are only $25 or $50 for some of these stops, but if you do enough in a day, it adds up to some pretty good revenue.” Perrotta began pursuing the repair business several years ago as a way to fill out his drivers’ day.