Medicare mandate could cut wheelchair and medical services
By Mike Vogel
The feds are considering a new Medicare law that leaves some people with disabilities very worried. It’s a move that people who rely on anything from wheelchairs to prescriptions say could literally kill them.
“On paper, we’re just a number. It basically removes a voice for those that need health services,” said Hernan Reyes, a paraplegic mouth artist.
Hernan Reyes has been in a wheelchair for 20 years, after a car wreck left him paraplegic. A federal mandate has him pretty worried. The law would require medical equipment companies to bid for the medicare contracts.
“You take health care and you put it up for bid. The problem is the way it’s been administered. It has some serious flaws that can put the patients in danger that are using home medical equipment,” said Brent Seward, Vice President of Medical at NORCO.
The contracts would be awarded to the median bidders, not the high or the low, even if that bidder is from out of state. Local companies say there’s no way an out of state company can provide the same quality of service. Reyes has used the same company for his wheelchair, ATS Wheelchair and Medical, for 20 years. He says he just wants to be treated like everyone else and still have a choice.
“Not being able to make a choice is not right, and ATS (Wheelchair & Medical) is a small outfit, but they know who I am and they know what my needs are, what kind of chair I have. For me to have to go and talk to someone in California or Chicago doesn’t make sense,” said Reyes. Reyes says if the mandate passes, it will cost taxpayers more in the end. People who need immediate care would have to wait for services from who knows where. If that happens and they have a medical emergency, they’ll be calling 911 just to make a trip to the emergency room.
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