Reporter's notebook: Caught on tape?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rather than give him the runaround, T.J. McEnany almost wishes Florida's Medicaid program would just tell him that they're out of money and won't pay his claims for gait trainers.

McEnany, vice president and general manager of Wheelchairs Plus in Jacksonville, Fla., has increasingly received requests from Medicaid for additional documentation, including, of all things, videos.

"They'll want a video of independent weight bearing," he said. "Well, they're setting us up for failure. You're supposed to use a gait trainer to train them to walk. It's extremely frustrating."

In the past 10 years, McEnany estimates that Wheelchairs Plus has received three requests for videos, but in the last 30 days alone, the company has received 10.

McEnany has asked Medicaid to clarify whether videos are now required for gait trainers, but he's gotten nowhere.

"Tell me what you want," he said. "If you want videos, tell me up front and put it in your policy."

Let the shoe drop

Looking for ways to diversify her product mix, mobility provider Evie Brodbeck started providing diabetic shoes in October and now she does about six pairs of them a month.

"When we were at Medtrade last fall, we saw Dr. Comfort Shoes and we thought that they were really great leather shoes," said Brodbeck, co-owner of Command Mobility in Franklin, N.C. "It has been a really good add-on for us."

It wasn't much of stretch to go from mobility on wheels to mobility on foot. Manufacturers like Dr. Comfort make the transition easy with training and other services.

"If they don't fit or a customer doesn't like them, we can send them back for free and they they'll send over another pair," Brodbeck said.