What’s The Scooter Store’s legacy?
YARMOUTH, Maine – Stakeholders expect the downfall of The Scooter Store to have several lasting effects on the power mobility industry.
The Scooter Store announced Sept. 13 that it has been cut out of Rounds 1 and 2 of competitive bidding, and will close for good in the coming weeks.
Among the consequences of the closure, and the controversy and investigation surrounding it: Access to power wheelchairs will likely take a hit, providers say.
“I suspect utilization will go down dramatically,” said Cory Baker, compliance officer at Abilene, Texas-based Choice Medical Supply. “Quite a few doctors are done with power mobility because this has put a bad taste in their mouths. They’re gun-shy.”
Providers say any providers hoping to fill The Scooter Store’s shoes will also be gun-shy.
“It would be a scary hole to fill, with the threat of audits so high,” said Tyler Riddle, vice president of Albany, Ga.-based MRS Homecare. “I think you’ll see more mom-n-pops learning to do this again.”
Even when closed, The Scooter Store will continue to sting some providers. CMS is not only investigating The Scooter Store’s claims and deeming some equipment medically unnecessary, but also recouping money paid to other providers for repairs.
“We’ve had that happen,” said Rick Perrotta, president of Network Medical Supply in Charlotte, N.C. “Now we’re not servicing the chair unless it’s five years or older.”
Consultant Martin Szmal says CMS needs to step up to the plate to resolve these issues and make the same allowance it did for oxygen in August—when the provider goes out of business, the patient should be able to start over with someone else.
“This is something CMS needs to address,” said Szmal, founder of The Mobility Consultants. “We can only guess at the number of patients this will affect.”
For good or for ill, nothing did more to raise awareness of the power mobility benefit than The Scooter Store and its late night TV ads, providers say, and the provider will not soon be forgotten.
“Whether I agree with the ads or not doesn’t matter,” said Mark Farmer, president of Mesa, Ariz.-based Southwest Mobility.
Providers say The Scooter Store will also live on as a cautionary tale.
“The largest mobility provider got shut down in a heartbeat through audits and recoupments,” said Riddle. “You have to have every ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed—if it can happen to The Scooter Store, it can happen to anyone.”