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Medicare Policies Are Inconsistent with Cost-Effective Aging-at-Home Strategies
Date:12/13/2012

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- States across the country are finding new ways for senior citizens to age at home, a healthcare strategy that seniors prefer and one that reduces public spending on nursing homes and other care facilities. But the policies and regulations implemented by Medicare often run counter to this trend, actually making it more difficult for beneficiaries to receive power wheelchairs and remain independent in their homes.

As far back as 2001, President George W. Bush announced a New Freedom Initiative that was designed to increase access for people living with disabilities and expand educational and employment opportunities, while promoting full access to community life. It was also anticipated that government policies would move towards helping Medicare beneficiaries age in their homes, which is frequently the most cost-effective way of caring for them.

However, over the past decade Medicare policies and regulations have done the opposite: the many changes are dismantling the home medical equipment network that provides power wheelchairs and other medical equipment that is vital to allowing beneficiaries stay independent in their home.

The biggest problem has been the decision two years ago to turn the Medicare mobility benefit into a rental program, a process in which beneficiaries no longer own their power wheelchairs after the first month and instead rent them. While fueling uncertainty among beneficiaries, the change has been financially devastating to many businesses now forced to pay manufacturers for the power chairs and then receive 13 monthly rental reimbursement payments from Medicare. Many businesses don't have the cash flow to sustain operations.  

Another obstruction is the flawed competitive bidding system that actually limi
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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