PMD utilization has declined, coalition claims

Sunday, October 29, 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, has 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.

"The government's own data clearly shows that big increases in utilization ended in 2003," said Mal Mixon, chairman and CEO of Invacare. "It is certainly misleading for CMS to contend that some big, recent surge in utilization calls for these draconian cuts in reimbursements that will make it difficult for beneficiaries to receive wheelchairs."

To support its plan to cut reimbursement for power mobility devices by up to 40%, 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 in line with the 7% increase in Medicare eligibility, the council stated.