Industry cost studies move forward

Monday, June 30, 2008

WASHINGTON--The rehab industry has made progress with two cost studies that it hopes will help keep at bay the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and any additional cuts to power mobility devices.

By June, NCART, under the auspices of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, had raised about half of the $150,000 it needs to fund a study by Georgia Tech University and the University of Buffalo, allowing researchers to move forward.

“We just need the research design tightened up, and we’ll be ready to go later this month,” Hildebrandt said in June.

Because the results from that study won’t be available any time soon, the industry in June was also helping the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business to collect data from providers for a second study. Results from that study should be available Aug. 1, according to Doug Westerdahl, who’s involved with NCART and AAHomecare’s Rehab and Assistive Technology Council (RATC).

The rehab industry initiated the studies earlier this year after the OIG released a report that stated Medicare pricing for 28 power wheelchair codes was 45% higher, on average, than median Internet pricing. Since the report was released, the OIG has been surveying providers to take a closer look at the costs of providing PMDs.

In general, both industry studies will examine services provided, time spent, costs incurred and outcomes achieved. The industry aims for about 15 to 25 participants for the Sam Schmidt study and about 75 to 100 participants for the Simon study.

“We have no idea where the OIG is going with its investigation,” said Tim Pederson, chairman of RATC.

“But I feel these studies will give us the basis for a good argument.”

NRRTS, The VGM Group’s U.S. Rehab and The MED Group also had a hand in organizing the studies.