Texas study yields more PWC savings for Medicare

Saturday, April 30, 2005

BRYAN, Texas -- By providing a power wheelchair to a Medicare beneficiary, taxpayers save as much as $8,760 per recipient over a three-year period, according to a new analysis conducted by RRC, Inc.
RRC reached these findings after an independent re-examination of data analyzed for a Scooter Store funded-study released last year. In that previous study, the report showed savings of about $350 per quarter for each recipient of a power chair.
The more recent refinements in the analysis indicate that savings, after accounting for the cost of the power vehicle, average about $680 per quarter. The new number is a consequence of a reformulation of an equation that more strictly defines who is in the control group.
The higher numbers came as a surprise to the study's researchers, who reworked the study for publication in a peer review journal. They were not surprised, however, that the data demonstrates that Medicare beneficiaries who use power wheelchairs continue to save the program money.
"Overall, we're finding savings; it doesn't matter what we do," said RRC researcher Clifford L. Fry, a Ph.D. economist and graduate of Texas A&M University. "That's really the big message. The amount could vary -- depending on time frame studied, the number of people in the control group, etc. But what is interesting to me is the viability of the savings result."
On this new study, Fry worked with Donald House, also a Ph.D. economist and graduate of Texas A&M University, and Kent D. Nash, a Ph.D. economist and graduate of North Carolina State University. All are former faculty members of Texas A&M.
The RRC researchers can't say why power wheelchair users save money. They speculate that power chairs are helping to reduce in-patient expenditures by preventing broken hips. They also suspect that power chairs help keep people from more costly nursing home or assisted living facilities.