First-month purchase option for power wheelchairs

Thursday, December 10, 2009

WASHINGTON – When it comes to this week’s debate in the Senate over healthcare reform, it was a roller-coaster week for wheelchair providers.

The high: On Dec. 6, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., filed an amendment to preserve the first-month purchase option for standard power wheelchairs. The amendment, which the industry helped craft, would allow CMS to treat purchases like rentals and collect money back from providers, but only if beneficiaries use their wheelchairs for less than 13 months.

The low: A few days later, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the amendment would save Medicare only $200 million over 10 years, effectively killing it. The Senate seeks to save $800 million over 10 years by eliminating the first-month purchase option.

“There’s a potential small window to get another amendment,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products. “Sen. Specter is continuing to push on our behalf.”