The year in mobility stories

Sunday, January 22, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine - With mobility providers under siege in 2011--everything from competitive bidding to a prepay review for power mobility devices---it's no surprise that eight of the year's top 10 mobility stories featured CMS. 

Taking the top spot: "Competitive bidding: Who's on the hook for wheelchair repairs?" 

Already reeling from the competitive bidding program, which kicked off Jan. 1, 2011, providers in Round 1 areas didn't know who could--or should--do wheelchair repairs. Adding to the confusion: A CMS fact sheet that states any supplier can perform repairs, but only contract suppliers can provide certain replacement items.

As Round 2 details emerged, another competitive bidding issue came to the forefront, as detailed in the No. 7 story, "Bidding marries manual, power wheelchairs." Stakeholders are still voicing opposition to the plan to combine the two disparate wheelchair types into one category.

Competitive bidding wasn't the only CMS activity on mobility providers' radar this year. The beginning of the year was marked by the elimination of the first-month purchase option for standard power wheelchairs. The stories in the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 spots dealt with this issue. 

As we move into 2012, the industry is still examining the effects the elimination has had, including whether providers are exiting the market or closing up shop altogether. 

Toward the end of the year, CMS announced a demonstration project in seven states that included a prepay review for power mobility devices. In response to industry outcry, as well as opposition from consumer and physician groups, the demo, originally slated to begin Jan. 1, 2012, CMS in late December announced it would postpone the demo. The No. 8 and No. 9 stories ("New demo scrutinizes PMD claims" and "Wheelchair providers react to new demo") examined the proposal and clocked provider reaction.

And finally, RESNA continued to be an active force in the mobility industry. An article about RESNA's new wheelchair provision guide, "'It's astounding that this didn't exist'" took the No. 2 spot, and an update on RESNA's SMS credential, "One year later: Seating and mobility specialist credential," came in at No. 10.