Providers welcome retail-only products

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What do HME providers have to say about manufacturers coming out with non-coded, retail-only power mobility devices (PMDs)? Bring. Them. On.

“I think it’s much more attractive than it’s ever been,” said Jim Greatorex, president of Black Bear Medical in Portland, Maine.

PMDs have been hard hit by changes to documentation requirements and reimbursement in the past few years. The most recent: Medicare now requires a prior authorization process in certain states.

Providers say the changes not only frustrate them but also Medicare beneficiaries, making retail-only PMDs the path of least resistance for both parties.

“The hassle that we make people go through—many just throw up their hands, anyway, and say, ‘I’ll just buy it,’” Greatorex said.

Providers say even if they’ve successfully gone through the process of getting a wheelchair approved by Medicare, the retail-only PMD is still a good option as a second chair for the beneficiary.

“The hardest thing about a power wheelchair is hauling it around,” said Mike Grotefend, co-owner of Alpine Home Medical in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. “They could have the power wheelchair at home and then another wheelchair or scooter that’s more 


Providers say beneficiaries are willing to spend money on PMDs—if you offer them at fair and reasonable prices.

“Some providers charge too much,” Grotefend said. “If I can price something in the showroom at $2,000, I can deliver it, set it up, explain it and still do very well. You have to make it 


Providers say they hope to see a steady stream of retail-only PMDs from manufacturers going forward.

“You can’t run a business based on the way the power mobility benefit is right now,” Greatorex said. “I think it’s a nice option for manufacturers to give their good providers to still have a chance at getting some clients.”