Group braces for impact

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Both industry and consumer groups are working earnestly these days to deliver an important message to lawmakers: The 9.5% nationwide reimbursement cut will negatively impact consumer access to complex rehab equipment and services. The ALS Association, which provides resources and support to people living with Lou Gehrig’s disease and their families, plans to monitor the effects of the cut. If a consumer has trouble accessing equipment, the association wants to know about it, Sharon Matland, vice president of patient services, told HME News recently.  

HME News: Why is the ALS Association concerned about the 9.5% cut?

Sharon Matland: With the delay of competitive bidding and the 9.5% cut being applied, we’re thinking this reduction could have an impact on people being able to access wheelchairs and complex rehab equipment. There might be a need for people to pay for things themselves more than they have done in the past and there might be things that occur in terms of substituting one piece of equipment for another. This equipment is not interchangeable. ALS is so devastating that we want to make sure that people have access to the things they need.

HME: Is the ALS Association monitoring the effects of the cut on consumers’ access to complex rehab equipment?

Matland: We are. Patient services and our advocacy group in Washington, D.C., work very closely together to keep an eye on and an ear open to what is impacting or what might be impacting the population of people with ALS. Patient services works directly with people with ALS so they can say, ‘Mrs. Smith, let us know if you have a problem obtaining a wheelchair.’ They also work with the DME companies. We have 42 chapters nationally and they cover most of the states so we have access to most of what people living with ALS might be experiencing.

HME: What will you do with the feedback you receive?

Matland: We’ll bring this information to the people on Capitol Hill to see if there’s anything that can be done to present the issue that, yes, this is indeed having an impact and is there something that can be adjusted or can be looked at or managed differently?