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by: Liz Beaulieu - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This just in, courtesy of an e-mail blast yesterday from NRRTS: It's rumored that, to help pay for healthcare reform, the Senate Finance Committee, like the House Ways and Means Committee, will propose eliminating the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs. But the Senate Finance Committee may exclude Group 3 power wheelchairs. Officially, members of the Senate Finance Committee left Capitol Hill last week for their July 4th recess without releasing their draft bill.

In the meantime, NRRTS encourages registrants to call lawmakers on the Ways and Means Committee. It provided the following conversation template:

"Please tell Congressman <name>  or Congresswoman <name> that I <live> or <work> in their District and I am opposed to the elimination of the first-month purchase option for power wheelchairs as proposed in the discussion draft published by the House Ways and Means; Energy & Commerce; and Education & Labor Committees. The specific language that I oppose is on page 208-209, Section 1141 of the document. I would like the Congressman <or> Congresswoman to know that this proposal, to eliminate the first month purchase option for power wheelchairs, will have a devastating impact on the quality and access to service for my clients with significant disabilities - who are his <or> her constituents as well."

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Thursday, June 25, 2009

I stumbled across this blog today (I know, I know; I'm blogging about a blog!) that features photos of concept wheelchairs designed by Jack Eadie. Who's Jack Eadie? I'm not sure. I found this bio of him online. It looks like he's a third-year university student in Australia who's designing an electric power wheelchair as part of his final year project. Anyway, you have to check out these chairs. They look cool, and they seem functional. The blogger describes them as "sorta a Segway/wheelchair hybrid." I'm not sure chairs like this will hit the market any time soon, but it's always neat to see how a pair of young eyes views a product that's been around for decades.

Jake Eadie

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tammy Wilber, state coordinator for the Ms. Wheelchair Washington State Pageant, sent out an e-mail blast earlier this month to recommend a new wheelchair device called FreeWheel. The device attaches to the front of a wheelchair, allowing users to push over difficult surfaces like curbs and rough roads.

I have had a handcycle bike before, but I had a lot of issues carting it around in my car,” Wilber wrote. “The FreeWheel gives me that same feeling, but it weighs on about 5 pounds. You can even clamp it to the back of your wheelchair.

The creator of the device, Pat Dougherty, is a quadriplegic. You know what they say: Necessity is the mother of invention.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The rehab industry scored a victory last week when the medical directors agreed to add some but not all of the diagnoses it suggested to the list of conditions that qualify patients for skin protection and seat and back cushions for wheelchairs. For skin protection cushions, approved diagnoses now include 342.0 hemiplegia/hemiparesis, 333.4 Huntington's chorea, 333.6 idiopathic torsion dystonia,  333.71 athetoid cerebral palsy and transverse myelitis. For seat and back cushions, they include 879 traumatic amputation of leg (complete or partial), 756.51 osteogenesis imperfecta and transverse myelitis. The industry seeks to continue working with the medical directors to change the local coverage determination (LCD) for seating so it's more clinically driven, not diagnosis-driven.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Monday, June 22, 2009

The California Department of Health Services recently announced a pilot program to contract DME. The department's first target: adult, non-powered wheelchairs, according to Bob Achermann, executive director of the California Association of Medical Product Suppliers (CAMPS).

The state seeks to contract directly with manufacturers to determine a fair acquisition price on DME and then offer providers that price plus a markup, Achermann.

While a number of states have contracted supplies like adult diapers, I haven't heard of states contracting wheelchairs. Have you?  What's included under adult, non-powered wheelchairs? Will custom manual wheelchairs be included?

Achermann says the state seeks comments on what should/shouldn't be put out for contract.

When one state makes a leap like this, others are usually watching closely.

Stay tuned...

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Friday, June 19, 2009

So I talked to rehab provider Bruce Bayes over at Custom Mobility in Largo, Fla., earlier this week. He told me that Sailability Greater Tampa Bay, which provides affordable and accessible sailing activities and education to children and adults of all ages and abilities, had a special guest in May: Sam Schmidt, the former Indy Racing League driver who became a quadriplegic after an accident during a practice run in 2000. Schmidt has since formed the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation and Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Check out these photos of Schmidt as he sails with Gary Soodak, the lead service technician for Custom Mobility, in a customized seat fabricated by the provider.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Thursday, June 18, 2009

NRRTS announced this week that it has tentatively scheduled its annual Continuing Education and Legislative Advocacy (CELA) conference for April 28-30 in the Washington, D.C., area.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rehab providers in Georgia report that the state Medicaid program wants to adjust its allowable to 80% of Medicare's allowable. Earlier this month, the state's board of community health delayed the change so it could further research the potential impact on consumers. But the board has another meeting in early July, and "it has been strongly implied that they plan to move forward as originally planned," one source said.

Don't most Medicaid programs set their allowables by taking a certain percentage off  Medicare's allowable?

Providers in other states: What does Medicaid pay you?

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I just received this release in my inbox:

The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART) has announced that Donald E. Clayback will be assuming the Executive Director position of the organization effective July 15, 2009.

Here's why:

Given the challenges facing the complex rehab providers and manufacturers, NCART is increasing its resources in order to provide greater representation and assistance to the industry.

Check our Web site later today and the HME NewsWire on Monday for more details.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Noridian Administrative Services, the DME MAC for Jurisdiction C, published a bulletin June 11 that states it will conduct a "widespread probe" of claims for standard power wheelchairs (K0823). "Widespread reviews are used to determine the extent of potential problem areas across multiple suppliers," Noridian stated. Any provider billing Jurisdiction C for K0823s is subject to review. Be on the lookout for additional documentation request (ADR) letters. Noridian has had its eye on K0823s for a while.

Liz Beaulieu