Ann Eubank from UsersFirst has advised PAMS that CMS has asked United Spinal Association to take the lead on gathering consumer data on a rapidly degenerating repair access crisis in the DME sector that is leaving consumers frustrated and without properly functioning equipment.
“Wheelchair repairs are a mess! We are receiving MANY calls every month regarding repairs for a variety of reasons, particularly in competitive bidding areas: the supplier is out of business, a new supplier can’t take on the repair, the only supplier willing to fix the chair is too far away, etc. Wheelchair users are VERY frustrated and not exactly sure why this is happening,” Eubank said.
UsersFirst will work with suppliers and consumers to collect data on wheelchair repair. “We have developed a form at http://www.usersfirst.org/submit-your-story/ to gather stories from consumers to show CMS proof that there is little to no access to repairs for many of our wheelchair users. We are also collecting data from suppliers on wheelchair repair in bidding and non-bidding areas.”
Providers are encouraged to go to the Power Mobility Device Repair Problems Survey that has been posted by AAHomecare. The survey is designed to show that PMD repairs are a problem, and that the problem is made worse by the bidding program. Provider answers will be held in confidence. To participate in the survey, go to http://aahomecare.problems
NCART Executive Director Don Clayback also underscored the difficulties with wheelchair repairs, noting that “As predicted, Medicare beneficiaries seeking wheelchair repairs under the Competitive Bidding program are finding it very difficult and in some cases impossible to get their wheelchairs serviced. It is truly unfortunate that our pre-implementation comments and suggestions were ignored and the guidance that has been issued to date (written and over the phone) is confusing at best. The only good news is CMS staff sees there are problems in this area and are working on issuing better billing guidance and possibly making other program changes.”