Reporter’s notebook: Manufacturers hedge bets on capped-rental change

Friday, May 23, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine – What’s the impact on manufacturers of the transition to capped-rental status for certain complex rehab items?

So far, they’re hedging their bets.

The transition went into effect April 1, prompting some providers, such as Monroe Wheelchair, to discontinue providing items like power-assist devices.

But Exeter, Pa.-based Pride Mobility and Quantum Rehab report little impact from the change, mostly because it’s “largely a manual and pediatric wheelchair issue,” which isn’t the bulk of their business, says Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs.

“There are some repair issues that would impact standard power and complex power, but we’re working with CMS and the contractors to get guidance on those,” he said.

Manual wheelchairs are certainly the domain of TiLite, but David Boninger, vice president of marketing and communications, says the change has had little impact on that company, either.

“We’ve continued to grow in ways that we’re pleased with,” he said.

Attempts to reach Permobil, a large player in the pediatric wheelchair market, were unsuccessful.

As for what manufacturers are doing to help ease the pain on providers, who now must wait 13 months to get paid in full for these items, Johnson says, “We don’t have a new program designed for this challenge, but we continue to have financing options available to meet the needs of our customers.”

Boninger says TiLite is also educating providers on alternative funding options.

“We don’t want them to be scared off and intimidated to think they’re not going to get the equipment they need,” he said.

Additionally, Pride and Quantum continue, along with NCART and AAHomecare, to fight the change on Capitol Hill.

“It does impact our providers, even though some of the products hit the hardest we don’t provide,” Johnson said. “We do think, based on preliminary meetings, that it’s going to take Congress or political pressure on the agency to put in place a workable solution.”