Starting Jan. 1, Medicare will make drastic reimbursement cuts as high as 30 to 40 percent or more on wheelchair complex rehab components — this means everything from cushions and seat backs to wheelchair controllers on both manual and power chairs will be affected. Put another way, that’s almost everything but the frame of the wheelchair. This is a result of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Final Rule 1614-F, which will go into effect on Jan. 1 unless Congress stops it.
I’m in my 30th year as a T10 complete para, I’ve worked as a sales rep for both a manufacturer and local wheelchair dealer, and I’ve seen first hand that Medicare reimbursement margins on wheelchairs and components are already so thin that these cuts will make it extremely difficult to get many components and others will no longer be offered. Companies simply can’t make a product at a net loss. Worse yet, private insurance companies generally use Medicare as a guideline for what they will pay for, so if these cuts are allowed to stand, every wheelchair user may be affected.
WE CAN REVERSE THIS BUT WE MUST ACT IMMEDIATELY.
Every one of us needs to send an email and follow-up phone call to our senators and representatives. In the emails and phone calls, do three simple things:
- First, identify yourself: “I am <your name,> and I live <your city, state>.
- Ask your U.S. representative to support HR3229, and ask your U.S. senator to support S2196.
- Say why this issue is important. For example, I explain that I need the proper wheelchair cushion to prevent life threatening pressure sores — something that would put me in the hospital and cost tax payers $50,000 to $100,000 or more in hospital bills and could prove fatal. AND I need the proper wheelchair back to prevent scoliosis.
Legislators count each email and phone call in support or opposition to an issue. One more thing, please have friends and family members email and call as well. WE CAN REVERSE THIS!
Remember, government works for us, but only when we let them know what we want!
For me, finding and contacting my representatives seemed intimidating, but I found it was easy and when I did it. I became empowered — and that’s a good feeling. I’m not just yelling at my television or posting my opinion on social media, I have become part of the solution!
Here is a link to an-easy-to-follow guide I wrote a few years ago on how to find and contact your representatives. This was written about another funding cut back issue but serves as a great blueprint.
Below is a letter to the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology, that explains what is happening and a call out for help:
Let’s take 20-30 minutes to contact our representatives and fight for the equipment we need.