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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: Medicare Demonstration Project to Impact Access to Mobility Products

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On September 1, 2012 Medicare implemented a prior authorization demonstration project for power mobility devices (power wheelchairs and scooters) that will impact access to prescribed mobility products for consumers who live in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Texas.

It is important for you to know that if you have a need for a mobility device based on your doctor’s exam; the process to obtain the product changed significantly on September 1 under this Medicare-developed demonstration program. Lengthy delays or denials in securing mobility independence will largely be due to paperwork issues between Medicare and the doctor’s office, which now must be addressed up front, prior to receiving your power wheelchair. Currently this back and forth process is something Medicare, your doctor, and equipment provider work through following the delivery of the equipment. That all changed on September 1, 2012.  

NCIL does not believe government bureaucracy and administrative issues should hold up your access to a prescribed mobility device. We are encouraging our members to take action and express your concern regarding this serious issue, and report how this program has negatively impacted you. Here is what you can do:

  • Call 1-800-MEDICAR(E)
  • Call your Senators and Representative at (202) 224-3121.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
Let them know the following:
  • If this delay has led to an inability to get around your home or work, or to participate in the community;
  • if the delay has led to a lengthier stay in a hospital or nursing facility while waiting for this paperwork issue to be resolved; and
  • that it is not right to refuse prescribed support to a person based on subjective review of a doctor’s documentation to further support their prescription.

NCIL and other consumer organizations continue to express concerns with the impact of this project on seniors and individuals with disabilities. The more people who learn about this unfair process, the more the President, Medicare, and our elected officials will realize that changes are necessary. Please help us fix this short-sighted government project before more harm is done. Take action now!

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