Sunday, February 29, 2004

Feds arrest eight in giant wheelchair scam

DALLAS - Federal authorities last month arrested eight people, including a doctor, for allegedly bilking Medicare out of $15 million in fraudulent power-wheelchair claims, according to the OIG. The defendants recruited more than 1,000 Medicare patients or obtained their insurance information and filed Medicare claims, said Jane Boyle, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas. The alleged crooks were paid for power wheelchairs but provided less-expensive scooters, if anything at all, Boyle said. Recruiters allegedly approached senior citizens at gas stations, elderly care centers and apartment complexes and asked them if they would like a free scooter or wheelchair, authorities reported.
Alcohol and PWCs don’t mix in Florida

SPRING HILL, Fla. - A 45-year-old woman here appeared before a county judge in December in what could be a first of its kind case in Florida. Police alleged Cynthia Christensen was drunk last Sept. 13 when her power wheelchair collided with a van in front of her mobile home, according to the St. Petersburg Times. A toxicology exam revealed Christensen had a 0.12 blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash, exceeding the legal limit of 0.08. If convicted, she could face fines and no more than six months in jail. Florida Highway Patrol Lt. David Apgar said that in his 27 years with the agency, he has heard of people driving lawn mowers and garden tractors while being impaired. “I am not sure about wheelchairs,” Apgar told the Times. “It’s in the law, anyone who is driving a vehicle can be considered impaired.”
Group donates 150 PWCs to Packistan
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Wheels for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that collects recycled and used wheelchairs for the needy, recently delivered 150 wheelchairs and other ambulatory aides to Pakistan. Forty of those chairs were pediatric tilt-in-space with freedom seating. In April, volunteers also will visit Pakistan to train local physical and occupational therapists and doctors on seating, positioning and wheelchair mechanics.