Industry analyzes PMD policies

Thursday, November 30, 2006

WASHINGTON - Contrary to popular belief, the number of Medicare claims for power wheelchairs has declined significantly since 2003, the year it peaked, a coalition representing manufacturers and providers stated Oct. 26.
Restore Access to Mobility Partnership, or RAMP, analyzed SADMERC data and found that, while PMD utilization increased from 1998 to 2003 from 46,219 reimbursed units to 228,676 units, in 2004 it dropped 29% to 162,507 units. Last year, PMD utilization increased only 8% to 175,140 reimbursed units.
To support its plan to cut reimbursement for power mobility devices, CMS has repeatedly pointed out that PMD utilization has increased 2,700% in the last nine years.
While it acknowledges there was an increase in fraudulent claims earlier in the decade, RAMP contends that CMS took a big bite out of crime in 2003, resulting in decreased utilization in 2004. Last year's increase in utilization was inline with the 7% increase in Medicare eligibility, the council stated.
Economist: 'It is hard to argue why these cuts would be good'
CMS's plan to slash reimbursement for power mobility devices could force 1,500 providers to close their doors, according to an AAHomecare-commissioned study.
Also in the study, which was released last month: Reduced reimbursement for PMDs could cost Medicare up to $5.9 billion over the next eight years due to increased hospital stays and increased physician and home healthcare services.
Economic consultant Clifford Fry and his team at RRC, a Bryan, Texas-based consulting firm, conducted the study.
"It is hard to argue why these cuts would be good," he said.