Scooters anyone?

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Currently, individuals eligible for Medicare reimbursement are most often directed to power chairs as the primary mobility solution. While we agree that there is a legitimate need for power chairs, the design and function of power operated vehicles (POV)/scooters are clearly different than those of a power chair and should be recognized.

POV/scooters provide numerous and significant advantages over power chairs. The small size of POV/scooters downplays individuals’ limitations and enhances their active participation in life. Full body movement is promoted and it’s much easier to maneuver POV/scooters with better user control. Swivel seats and seat locks allow for ease of transfer and transportability. Last, but certainly not least, POV/scooters cost considerably less than power chairs. The potential amount of Medicare dollars saved annually, based on percentages recently outlined by Dara Corrigan (Office of Inspector General) in her testimony before the Senate Finance Committee on power chair fraud, is in the hundreds of millions!

Given the proven physical and financial benefits of a POV/scooter over a power chair, Medicare should encourage a lower cost mobility alternative as a better mobility solution.

Consider the following example, one of many, brought to our attention. A man in the Midwest was sent home from a rehab center with a power chair (Medicare financed). His need for a power-driven mobility vehicle was legitimate, but he was given no choice between a Power Chair and a POV/scooter and no visit was made to his home. He and his wife found the power chair too big and awkward to use effectively around the house and too heavy to load into their vehicle. They finally purchased their own scooter, and the power chair is sitting in the garage unused.

How ironic that POV/scooters have always offered more mobility and are less expensive than power chairs, but have always been harder to get under Medicare. Amigo Mobility strongly suggests that individual needs along with home evaluations be determined and that lower cost alternatives, such as POV/scooters, be given equal or priority consideration for providing the best solution based on those findings and Medicare costs.

- Al Thieme is president and founder of Amigo Mobility
Irwin Selinger

I was shocked and surprised that Irwin Selinger, CEO of Graham-Field Health Products, was not completely exonerated of all charges this week. However, I am certain that once the appeal process is completed, Mr. Selinger will be vindicated.

I hope your readers understand that none of these circumstances will in any way affect the new Graham-Field. The management team, as well as our customers, have complete faith in the company and will continue to provide 100% support to the industry.

For many years, Graham-Field has been a major source of supplies and services to DME-HME dealers and med-surg suppliers and will continue to be so. Their loyalty and support to the industry should not be forgotten.

As director of government relations for Graham-Field, I lobbied and worked Congress together with G-F’s vice president, Michael Norby, as well as the American Association for Homecare during their annual Washington fly-in. We were there on behalf of our customers.

I am asking that you continue your support of Graham-Field. Let them know that you care and understand and will not let the negative publicity influence you in your commitment.

- Sheldon Prial is director of gov’t relations for G-F