Wheelchair repair issues abound for Scooter Store equipment

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Friday, May 31, 2013

WASHINGTON – AAHomecare has met with CMS to see if it can get some financial relief for providers who repair equipment for former customers of The Scooter Store.

“We’re working with CMS to see if we can devise some sort of system that would allow beneficiaries to access repairs and providers to get paid for them,” said Peter Rankin, manager of government affairs for AAHomecare.

Currently, providers can’t be paid for repairs on equipment still in the capped rental cycle. For patient-owned equipment, payment for repairs could be revoked during an audit if providers can’t get proper documentation for the initial medical need.

For now, repairing equipment for former customers of the Scooter Store remains complicated. For equipment that is still in the rental cycle, providers would have to pick up that patient as their own, says Martin Szmal, founder of The Mobility Consultants.

“At this point, CMS is saying if a provider is out of business and another provider wants to pick up that capped rental, they need a whole new set of documentation, and to give the patient a power wheelchair from the new provider,” he said.

That’s a lot of effort if an item has just a few months of rental income left on it, Szmal said.

If the patient already owns the equipment, providers can bill the claim as non-assigned, but they would need to get documentation to support the medical need, he said, either from The Scooter Store or through a new physician visit by the patient.

That new physician visit could benefit patients, especially complex rehab patients previously served by Alliance Seating & Mobility, The Scooter Store’s sister company, says provider Andrea Madsen.

“This way, we know they have the safest, most appropriate equipment,” said Madsen, rehab technology manager for Rochester, Minn.-based Med City Mobility. “If we do the evaluation again, we know they have the proper seating surface and the proper fit.”

Comments

As with many other competitiors, our company has received several calls from SS patients desperately trying to get their PMDs repaired or serviced. Imagine their disgust when we tell them that we either need the original documents showing medical necessity (highly improbable obtaining it) or, they'll need to see their ordering physician for a brand-new face-to-face mobility evaluation.  Our major concerns are that these former SS patients don't have the financial resources for a non-assigned claim and/or it's a huge inconvenience to wait for a new face-to-face exam.   What really sickens me is the majority of healthcare professionals placing orders with the SS didn't see right through the deceptive advertising.  All they cared about was "what forms do I need to fill out" or,  "just send me the documents that I need to complete".  With the LCD being in place since November 1, 2006, you'd think the physicians and other ordering practitioners would've caught on to what's required by now, but even with endless attempts, we still have to educate physicians/practitioners that we commonly deal with daily. Thanks to SS, only a few ordering practitioners are familiar with what's really required.  SS made the process look so simple to qualify for powered mobility. And I loved the way they touted "if we pre-qualify you and Medicare denies your chair, you can keep it at no charge".  What the patient was not told was that if Medicare denied the chair, they're also going to deny any future repairs to it as well.  Furthermore, there was nothing in the SS commercials showing potential patients how these PMDs would be transported from one place to another. They didn't tell beneficiaries that vehicle lifts and equipped vans are completely out-of-pocket purchases.  I don't care what the SS's intentions were--they should all be ashamed for what they did to the PMD market and to the integrity of the Medicare program.

I am personally dealing with dozens of former TSS/ASM customer in need of repairs. These customers have been instructed to obtain their medical records from TSS/ASM so they can get service. TSS/ASM will not release copies of the customers records to the customer or the service provider. This has left all their customers high and dry.

Every single Scooter Store customer who has contacted us for repairs has told me that The Scooter Store told them they could get a new powerchair. One customer told me that the Scooter Store rep he spoke with over the phone told him that no one can repair his powerchair because it's still in the capped rental phase; however, he can contact ANY provider and get a NEW POWERCHAIR. You would NOT believe the number of people who have contacted me asking for a new powerchair because The Scooter Store told them they can have one. Not only is this completely ridiculous and UNTRUE but they leave the customers thinking they have been given a solution to their problem and then the customer has to find out that they haven't. Medicare needs to have some sort of solution in place for us to service these customers.