This may be a whacky idea, but do you have a better one?
Here's something I've been thinking about for a long time: Would it be totally off the wall to suggest that Medicare remove a bunch of HME products from the fee schedule?
I'm not talking about oxygen and power wheelchairs and some of the bigger more expensive items that some seniors (but certainly not all) might have trouble paying for. I'm talking about stuff that could be considered a commodity. Things like walkers, commodes, cane handgrips, bed side rails, trays. That kind of stuff.
I suggest this because over the past weekend I went to two large family gatherings. One was a good old-fashioned family reunion and the other a memorial service. There were plenty of Medicare age folks at both, including my mother, 72, and my father, 75. I didn't see one person who could not afford some of this less-expensive HME. In fact, many if not all, could probably afford a power wheelchair if they really needed one. I know my parents could and they are not wealthy. They recently bought a big fancy flat screen TV. If they can afford that, they can certainly afford a scooter, and a commode would not even make them blink. I didn't ask them, but they may even think it's funny that Medicare pays for a cane grip. I know I do. A cane grip? Come on.
Like I said, I could be way off base here. But removing some of these inexpensive/commodity items from the fee schedule seems to make sense for two key reasons (and I'm sure there are more): 1. HME providers would see an immediately increase in cash sales and reduce their dependence on Medicare. 2. Medicare would see a corresponding decrease in utilization.
Isn't that what they call a win-win?
Please don't tell me that the majority of seniors, if they had to fork over their own cash and not Medicare's, would go without these products. We all know that would not be the case. It's certainly not going to be the case with baby boomers. If they want something, boomers are going to buy it. They may have to choose between a flat screen TV and a scooter, but life is full of such choices, right?