WASHINGTON (AP) — Wheelchair suppliers raised concerns Wednesday about a new government program that requires Medicare contractors to sign off before power wheelchairs can be delivered to elderly and disabled consumers.
Federal health officials countered that the changes are needed because nearly 80 percent of the power wheelchair claims submitted to Medicare don’t meet program requirements. That error rate represents more than $492 million in improper payments annually.
The new program began on Sept. 1 and requires providers in seven states to get confirmation from a government contractor that Medicare will pay for the device before they deliver it.
Michael Clark, general counsel for the SCOOTER Store, says the pilot project goes too far and every claim his business has submitted under the new program has been denied.
GOP members of the Senate Special Aging Committee called the hearing to learn how the pilot project was working. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that television commercials promoting wheelchairs give him the impression that the companies would figure out some way for the government to foot the bill if customers would only inquire.
“I think most Americans have seen these advertisements on TV and probably question what the federal government is doing. I certainly do.”