Reporter's notebook: Year in review: Accessories, Hoveround

Friday, January 22, 2016

YARMOUTH, Maine – 2015 was a stressful year for mobility providers, particularly when it came to getting reimbursed. 

Stakeholders were flabbergasted in late December 2014 when CMS released an FAQ indicating that competitive bid rates for standard wheelchair accessories would be applied to complex rehab wheelchair accessories as part of the national roll out (“CMS stuns with stance on accessories”).

Even after 101 members of Congress signed a letter asking CMS to reverse its decision, the agency refused to budge (“CMS stands firm on accessories”), forcing stakeholders to pursue a legislative fix. 

In the meantime, providers reexamined which products and services they could continue to provide to Medicare beneficiaries in the event the cuts went in to effect (“Providers may need to rethink accessories”).

Hoveround also found itself under the gun this year after the Office of Inspector General recommended that the direct-to-consumer manufacturer pay back the federal government $27 million. 

While Hoveround argues the OIG applied incorrect standards, some providers say they weren’t surprised (“Providers react to Hoveround audit”), pointing to the company’s television commercials depicting PMDs as a convenient means of transportation.

In the good news department: Repair technicians had little to worry about in the way of job security (“Repair techs rank high on job list”). Thanks to increased demand for healthcare services, listed medical equipment repairer as one of “the 5 best jobs you’ve never heard of.”