GAO releases report on accessories

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

WASHINGTON – Accessories for complex power wheelchairs might account for a relatively small share of Medicare utilization, but they account for a much larger share of total spending, according to a highly anticipated report published June 1 by the Government Accountability Office.

These accessories accounted for about 18% (312,000) of all wheelchair accessories in 2014 but about 51% ($159 million) of total spending. E1007, a power seating system with combination tilt and recline, accounted for 35% of total spending on accessories for complex power wheelchairs, at a price tag of $56 million, the GAO found.

Among the 10 accessories for complex power wheelchairs with the highest estimated expenditures, eight had payment rates adjusted by competitive bidding. These adjusted rates resulted in reductions ranging from 4% (expandable controller, E2377) to 17% (mounting hardware for joystick, control interface, or positioning accessory, E1028) compared to the unadjusted rates, according to the GAO.

The report was required by the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, a bill signed into law in December that delayed the application of bid pricing to accessories for complex power wheelchairs for one year. Due to its inability to change its claims processing system fast enough, however, Medicare will use the adjusted rates until July 1.

Industry stakeholders, who argue that bid pricing shouldn’t be applied to accessories for complex power wheelchairs at all because complex power wheelchairs have been carved out of the program, hoped the GAO report would increase their chances of getting a more permanent fix passed by Congress this year.