Reimbursement woes force Scooter Store to restructure

Sunday, August 29, 2004

August 30, 2004

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas - Mike Pfister, a current executive of The Scooter Store, has been named president of the company by founder and CEO Doug Harrison.
As part of the company’s restructuring, Pfister will lead the day-to-day operations. Harrison will focus his efforts as CEO on new entrepreneurial initiatives made necessary by Medicare’s efforts to reduce power wheelchair utilization. The Scooter Store is the nation's largest supplier of power wheelchairs and scooters.
In December, Medicare began to strictly enforce criteria that requires a beneficiary to be bed- or chair-confined to qualify for a power wheelchair.
"Medicare's drastic changes obviously have had a major impact on The Scooter Store, and regrettably several company executive positions have been eliminated as part of this restructuring," Harrison said.  "Further review of the workforce will be required." 
The Scooter Store currently is being denied millions of dollars by Medicare in reimbursement payments for power wheelchairs that were authorized by physicians and that have already have been delivered, Harrison said.
The Scooter Store laid off 200 of its 1,000+ employees in January.
Harrison pointed out that industry-wide Medicare reimbursements for power wheelchairs have been reduced by up to 50% compared to 2003, and further reductions are anticipated.
Pfister joined the company last year as executive vice president of IT, and has since assumed the broader responsibilities of all corporate services.  He brings in-depth executive experience in managing companies challenged with wide swings in revenue and production.  Prior to his association with The Scooter Store, he spent 25 years in the energy industry, first with Atlantic Richfield (ARCO) and then at Halliburton.
"Every company matures to a stage where its founder needs the additional expertise of a proven executive leader, and Mike's experience and talent are the perfect fit for our future," Harrison said.  "The Scooter Store is at the point where my entrepreneurial skills can best be directed toward meeting the challenges of a changing Medicare environment and exploring new ventures to return the company to growth, while Mike can focus on the improvement of our core business."
Other executive responsibilities resulting from the restructuring include Dan Gibbens, executive vice president, marketing; Bill Sisoian, executive vice president, sales; Tim Zipp, executive vice president, government relations; Rodger Mack, executive vice president, operations; and Fred Stepan, executive vice president, finance.  Margaret McGuckin, former executive vice president, marketing, will work closely with Harrison in her new role as general manager of business ventures.