Monroe Wheelchair works system

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – With the rise of managed care organizations in Medicaid, especially in New York, it’s been worth it for Monroe Wheelchair to have a contract relations manager on staff, Doug Westerdahl says.

The company hired Rachel Herzog, who previously worked for a number of MCOs, for the role about two years ago.

“I did it personally for years, but it got too much for me,” said Westerdahl, president. “She’s on top of this stuff right away.”

MCOs manage 83% of the Medicaid recipients in New York, and Monroe Wheelchair relies on Medicaid for about 25% of its business.

The biggest Medicaid/MCO issue that Monroe Wheelchair is grappling with right now: repairs. More specifically, that MCOs won’t pay for the labor associated with repairs, Westerdahl says.

“So guess what, we don’t service their subscribers’ wheelchairs,” he said. “We’ve been battling them on this for months.”

Monroe Wheelchair’s latest strategy to resolve the issue: involve the Center for Disability Rights, an Albany, N.Y.-based nonprofit, community-based advocacy and service organization for people with disabilities.

“They’ll get fired up about this,” Westerdahl said. “We’ve developed a strong relationship with them.”

While it’s been a big help to have organizations like NCART and AAHomecare increasingly working on Medicaid/MCO issues, Westerdahl says it still needs to be a priority internally for Monroe Wheelchair.

“When you catch them doing something wrong, you can address it as a state, but there may be different contracts and you have to discuss those individually,” he said.