Scooter Store backs off Houston Medicare business

Sunday, November 14, 2004

November 15, 2004

HOUSTON - The Scooter Store announced last Wednesday that it would no longer provide power wheelchairs and scooters to Medicare beneficiaries on an assigned basis in Harris County (Houston), Texas. 
In the past year, the Scooter Store said Medicare had paid for only eight of more than 500 power wheelchairs delivered to beneficiaries in Harris County.
“We invested a year and $2.5 million trying to live up to the obligation that we thought the federal government had for mobility,” said Scooter Store President Mike Pfister. “It’s financially irresponsible [for us] to continue any longer.”
If the Scooter Store pre-qualifies a Medicare beneficiary and Medicare later denies the claim, the company’s guarantee allows the beneficiary to keep the chair at no cost.
Nationwide, the Scooter Store reports that 95% of its Medicare claims are approved. Medicare approves about 83% of power wheelchair claims nationally, according to a Nov. 10 article in the Houston Chronicle, but in Harris County the approval rate overall is just 5%.
Steve McAdoo, an associate regional administrator for Medicare in Dallas, told the Chronicle he wasn’t aware of any complaints about access to powered mobility by Medicare beneficiaries in Harris County.
But Pfister wonders whether beneficiaries have access to McAdoo’s phone number, and whether they would be likely to call if they got to keep their chair.
“In our case, they are not calling him because we delivered a power wheelchair and true to our commitment, we left the power wheelchair with them,” he said.
The Scooter Store plans to close its Harris County distribution center but will provide technical support to existing customers there.