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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

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Boston Herald published a story last week about an annual fishing derby for handicapped people and senior citizens. The event is the brainchild of mail carrier Bob Bearor, who has on his 20-acre compound in Chittenden a wheelchair-accessible pond complete with safety rails. The pond is insured for year-round fishing by people in wheelchairs. More than 250 were expected to attend the event.

The Courier News published a story today about a fundraiser for Jay Cramer, who broke his neck rock climbing. At the time, Cramer was in the running to be a contestant on Survivor. Cramer, now an aspiring comic and motivational speaker, will perform at the fundraiser among others. Money raised will help him purchase a handicapped-accessible van.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Saturday, June 6, 2009

If you're in the market for rehab-related education, you have a few options the week of June 15th.

NRRTS hosts a "Legislative Update Webinar" on June 17 from 5 to 6:30 EST.

Then on June 18, AAHomecare hosts a Webinar and workshop, "Medicare Mobility Policy Intent vs. Industry Response and Implementation." Speakers include Dr. Paul Hughes, the medical director for Jurisdiction A, and Mark Schmeler of the University of Pittsburgh.

Liz Beaulieu