The first year will be the most painful


Here's the thing about the elimination of the first-month purchase option for standard power wheelchairs: The first year may be the most painful. After that, it may just be the same-old, same-old.

When providers talk about losing their ability to collect all the reimbursement for standard power wheelchairs in that first month, they talk mostly about how it's going to negatively affect their cash flow. They talk about how they're going to have to get financing to tide them over from the time they purchase the wheelchairs and Medicare fully pays for them (13 months).

In the short-term, that may be the case, indeed. But in the long-term, even eight months into the 13-month rental, it may not be. Here's what one provider told me:

"In month nine, if you're doing 10 chairs a month, you'll already have 80 chairs out there that you're getting rental payments for. So you're getting, say, $28,000 in month nine for wheelchairs that have been already delivered. So you kind of catch up. From that point forward, it's kind of the same thing."

Executive Editor Mike Moran interviewed Invacare's Carl Will and others about this. Keep an eye out for the May issue of HME News.

Liz Beaulieu


What happens if a Medicare patient switches to an HMO during the rental period? If we're not contracted with this HMO do we now need to pick up the chair? Can we re rent it to another patient?

Hi Ryan,
As I understand it, these are the kinds of details that CMS will have to address through rule-making. Conceivably, you'd be able to pick up the chair and rent it to another patient, but no one knows what the reimbursement will be for that.
Stay tuned!