'Clash over wheelchairs'


Another mainstream media outlet has published a story on efforts to cut reimbursement for wheelchairs.

BusinessWeek on Friday detailed efforts to eliminate the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs in "Clash over Wheelchairs in Health-Care Reform." The magazine quotes Eric Sokol from the Power Mobility Coalition (PMC):

The elimination of the purchase option will drive Medicare power mobility suppliers out of business and hurt domestic manufacturing of power wheelchairs. It could impact access to needy beneficiaries who will then end up in institutional settings, ultimately costing the government more money."

The magazine also includes some interesting third-party analysis of the efforts:

In a preliminary report released on Sept. 16, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that provisions in the new Baucus bill regarding power wheelchair reimbursements would save an estimated $800 million over 10 years. The most concentrated savings would come in the first year: $300 million worth. Marilyn Moon, vice-president and director of health programs at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, says the savings could come from not purchasing the chairs when people would be using them for less than the 13-month rental period, or by discouraging those who may not truly need a wheelchair from acquiring one.


There's a thousand different stakeholders and interests affected by these provisions," says Edwin Park, a senior fellow for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. "Suppliers and providers will always argue that changes in reimbursements will adversely affect beneficiaries. In some cases they might and in some cases they probably won't."

Liz Beaulieu