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by: Liz Beaulieu - Friday, July 31, 2009

From the Fun Friday Files:

img26914Kate Matelan of Pennsylvania was crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA on July 25 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The 21-year-old Matelan, who became paralyzed in a car accident when she was 5 years old, is a senior majoring in business administration at Bucknell University. Judges commended Matelan on her disability efforts on campus, including a meeting with university officials to discuss obstacles like lab tables in science classrooms that are too high for students in wheelchairs. As Ms. Wheelchair USA, Matelan will take her awareness efforts nationwide. She told The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.:

''Having a disability does not hinder me from achieving my goals nor does it mean that I have boundaries put on my future possibilities,'' she said.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Thursday, July 30, 2009

The rehab industry is working with Senate leaders on an alternative to a provision that would eliminate the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs, making them 13-month capped rental items. As part of draft healthcare reform legislation, the provision has been approved by two House committees.

The alternative, according to industry sources, would preserve the first-month purchase option, but if a beneficiary doesn't use a power wheelchair for 13 months the provider would refund Medicare for months not used.

"In the world of suckey situations, this sucks less than waiting 13 months for full payment," one source said.

Also, check this out: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dave Lieber took The Scooter Store to task earlier this month in his "Watchdog Column" for running ads for free scooters.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., introduced a bill this month that would eliminate the “in-the-home” restriction for mobility devices for individuals with expected long-term needs. The Medicare Independent Living Act of 2009, H.R. 3184, has 12 co-sponsors.

“The need to have access to one's physical environment through the use of an appropriate wheelchair or other mobility device, both inside and outside of the home, is critical to living independently, functioning in society and attaining a meaningful quality of life,” the bill states.

Right now, CMS covers mobility devices only if they’re used in the home. The bill seeks coverage for mobility devices used as part of “normal domestic, vocational and community activities.” Langevin introduced a similar bill in 2007.

Langevin points out in the bill that CMS’s “in-the-home” restriction is inconsistent with federal laws. In 1999, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Olmstead decision that “an individual with a disability has the right to live in the most integrated setting appropriate to meet the individual’s needs.”

“If Medicare coverage policy does not take into consideration the needs of individuals with mobility impairments to function outside the four walls of their homes, the right to live in the most integrated setting is denied,” the bill states.

Industry stakeholders, including NRRTS, encourage providers to contact lawmakers to co-sponsor H.R. 3184.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Monday, July 27, 2009

NRRTS has stepped up to the plate when it comes to disseminating complex rehab news. Have you noticed that the organization is sending out more frequent e-mail blasts? That it's doing a better job of updating the breaking news section of its Web site? That Directions, its quarterly publication, has been getting thicker and thicker? That it's posting videos to YouTube? That it has a twitter page?

Simon Margolis and crew are fired up!

Unfortunately, NRRTS's increased activity is directly related to the fragile state of the complex rehab industry right now.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Friday, July 24, 2009

The Senate stalled on its health care reform bill this week and it doesn't look like the House will make much progress before breaking for the August recess. While that may disappoint President Obama, it's a spot of good news for the rehab industry.
"This give providers more time to educate lawmakers on the impact of the elimination of the first month purchase option for power wheelchairs," said Pride Mobility's Seth Johnson. "When you look at the impact—there is a loss of jobs, loss of beneficiary access and ultimately, a loss to the economy."
Providers have their work cut out for them. A CNN story early in the week slammed the industry on Medicare reimbursement. Still, Johnson, who met with several Senate Finance Committee members this week said the industry's message is getting through to lawmakers.
"They have heard loud and clear from providers, manufacturers and consumers that there is a lot of concern with the elimination of the first month purchase option," he said.
Theresa Flaherty

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NRRTS took to YouTube yesterday to respond to a CNN report that claims Medicare overpays for wheelchairs.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The mainstream media (and whoever has their ear) has impeccable timing when it comes to haranguing the HME industry. CNN aired a segment last night about how the answer to Medicare's problem of overpaying for wheelchairs is national competitive bidding. This just as the industry works to get a bill introduced to eliminate the program (We reported in yesterday's NewsWire that the bill is "imminent.").

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Monday, July 20, 2009

Capabilities President Kathryn Arbour last month became the “Denver Mobility Products Examiner” for examiner.com, a Web site that offers news on everything from business to entertainment. Arbour, one of thousands of “examiners,” posts news to the Web site several times a week, attracting hundreds of hits. Recent topics: “The hemi adjustable wheelchair” and “Low vision tools for independence." Arbour said: "Obviously, the more we get identified as experts for solutions, not just products, the more customers will have confidence in us.”

Arbour also writes a blog on capabilities.com and contributes to Prime Time for Seniors, a local newspaper for seniors, and Disaboom, a community Web site for people with disabilities.

See an upcoming issue of HME News for more!

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Friday, July 17, 2009

This just in, courtesy of Pride Mobility's Seth Johnson:

As you know, the House draft healthcare reform bill includes a provision that would eliminate the first-month purchase option for Group 1 and Group 2 power wheelchairs. It exempts Group 3 complex power wheelchairs.

But "there is some talk about an alternative provision," Johnson said. "Nothing has been offered yet, but it would preserve the purchase option (and) meet the goals of the committees."

The Senate Finance Committee's draft healthcare reform bill, which industry stakeholders expect to be released some time this week, so far doesn't contain the provision.

"The Senate has heard quite a bit from consumer and clinician groups in support of preserving the option," he said. "That appears to be resonating well."

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I know I post a lot of product-related news on this blog (Angel Hands, Jack Eadie, FreeWheel) but I can't help it. I'm continually amazed by what poeple come up with to help wheelchair users live as free and fun a life as possible. My latest find: SoloRider, a cart with a mechanical seat and waist and chest straps that allows wheelchair users to golf.

Life Focus Disability Golfing 20090714

Pictured above is Shane Dunnett, a wheelchair user who plays basketball, rides an ATV, camps, fishes, raises a family and, now, golfs.

Liz Beaulieu

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