Tread carefully with reuse programs, position paper says

Friday, July 25, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine – DME reuse programs can be attractive in the face of state budget shortfalls, but an upcoming position paper from NCART says there are complications to consider before implementing such programs.

Texas, Connecticut and Oregon are currently contemplating DME reuse programs and NCART hopes the paper will guide these states and others as they move forward.

“Rather than telling them this is exactly what the program should look like, it’s more telling them these are the things you absolutely must consider,” said Rita Stanley, the author of the paper and vice president of government relations for Sunrise Medical.

NCART will also develop advisory documents to provide specific feedback to states.

One of the top concerns with reuse programs: the shelf life of the equipment. Most DME is defined as having a reasonable usable lifetime of five years. If a nearly five-year-old wheelchair comes into a reuse program, however, expecting it to last another five years is unreasonable, Stanley says. It could cost more in the long term and be unsafe for the user.

Among the recommendations in the paper:

• Make reuse optional for the recipient.

• Consider the service-and-delivery model: Who is evaluating, delivering and repairing the equipment, and how are they being paid?

• Consider the equipment itself: Is it basic with limited sizes or colors, or is it more complex?

“Clearly, there are items where reuse might be very appropriate,” said Stanley. “We’ve been very clear that, for the most part, items that are made for one specific person and have been in continual use for a period of time are not appropriate to be used again.”

Reuse programs should start simple, Stanley says.

“Consider standard products that are simple to clean, assess and reissue to gain experience and knowledge regarding how reuse actually works, and identify program and operational needs before even considering more complex technology,”she said. “As for complex rehab technology, it is critical that people with disabilities receive the technology that is being recommended to meet their unique medical and functional needs.”

NCART expects to publish the paper sometime this month.