Providers react to Hoveround audit
YARMOUTH, Maine – Mobility providers aren’t surprised by the Office of Inspector General’s call for Hoveround to pay back the federal government $27 million, they say.
After auditing 200 randomly selected Hoveround claims for PMDs from 2010, the OIG found that 154 did not meet Medicare reimbursement requirements.
“I’m in rural North Dakota and I’ve come across many beneficiaries that have a power wheelchair from Hoveround or The Scooter Store in their garage, closet or spare bedroom that they’ve never used because it doesn’t fit them or they were never instructed how to use it,” said Nancy Froslie, rehab manager at Sanford Healthcare Accessories in Jamestown, N.D. “So in a lot of ways, it doesn’t surprise me.”
Providers point to Hoveround’s television commercials, one of which depicts a pair of seniors exploring the Grand Canyon in their Hoveround chairs, as a possible reason the company has caught the OIG’s attention. They say the commercials misrepresent the equipment as a convenient means of transportation rather than a medical necessity.
“It’s not shocking because of the way they went about their marketing,” said Diana Clark, office manager at Stockbridge, Ga.-based Durable Medical Supplies. “It lends itself to paperwork that isn’t necessarily correct and patients that may not actually qualify for services.”
Other providers, however, take a more holistic view, noting that in today’s gotcha audit environment, no one is really safe from scrutiny.
“Knowing the people in charge at Hoveround and their ethics, I was a little surprised,” said Jackie Semrad, compliance officer at Reliable Medical Supply in Brooklyn Park, Minn. “But it could happen to any one of us, any one of the big nationals. If you don’t have one little ‘I’ dotted or ‘T’ crossed, it could come back to haunt you.”