OIG report: Industry on the defensive

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

WASHINGTON – The wheelchair industry in September attempted to walk the fine line between calling unnecessary attention to a recent Office of Inspector General (OIG) report and refuting it.

The report, released in September, claims that Medicare pays about four times cost for standard power wheelchairs and two times cost for complex power wheelchairs.

“We don’t want to keep talking about something that may have had its 15 minutes of fame,” said Simon Margolis, NRRTS’s executive director. “But, at the same time, we have to continue making our case.”

The industry’s case: The report neglects the service costs and other business expenses involved with providing wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries.

Industry stakeholders have requested meetings with OIG officials to discuss the report. Don Clayback, NCART’s executive director, met with the legal counsel for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in September.

“She said she could help facilitate a meeting with OIG officials,” he said.

Additionally, AAHomecare’s Complex Rehab and Mobility Council (CRMC) is working on a position paper that providers and others can use when the report comes up during discussions with legislators.

“People are getting it thrown in their face,” said Tim Pederson, the CRMC’s chairman. “We need to be prepared.”

Industry stakeholders are also working to quantify the service costs and other business expenses involved with providing wheelchairs to Medicare beneficiaries. CMS, in its response to the report, recommends a follow-up study on that very subject.

“That’s the only way to adequately capture whether there is an actual need to refine payments or not,” said Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Pride Mobility Products.

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