Wheelchair clinic closes doors after 10 years

Friday, May 23, 2014

BELLE VERNON, Pa. - Call it collateral damage. Ten years and three days after seeing its first patient, Rehab Mobility Specialists has closed its doors. 

Changing rules and tighter margins took their toll, said Chris Chovan, who owned the Belle Vernon, Pa.-based company. An OT/ATP, Chovan was reimbursed for therapeutic evaluations. 

“It really got to the point where ATPs weren’t comfortable making that call themselves, as muddy as the waters have become,” said Chovan. “They wanted to have a clinical person come in and make the call.”

Bit by bit, those reimbursements declined while paperwork requirements grew. It added up. In the early days, he did an hour of paperwork for each hour spent with a patient. 

But, denials required addendums, rewrites and additional documentation, he said, and that cut into his business’ efficiency. The time spent on paperwork rose to more than two hours, he said—time he wasn’t getting paid for. 

Things got worse in January when the Round 1 re-bid kicked off, coinciding with a seasonal slump and driving down the number of new evaluations. 

“It’s a few minutes that add up here, a few minutes that add up there,” said Chovan. “When you’re trying to save every minute, when everything coming down the line adds minutes and cuts into that efficiency, it no longer makes sense.”

A decade was a good run, and while Chovan helped many, he says he can’t do pro bono work. He’ll stay in the industry, heading up a provider’s accessibility division. 

“There aren’t that many wheelchair clinics anymore,” said Chovan. “People call and say ‘I know you’re not doing this anymore, but who is?’ I don’t have an answer. There’s not a lot of availability.”