August 22, 2011

The Saginaw News - Medicare-funded Power Wheelchairs Create Headache for Amigo Mobility

Al Thieme, Amigo President & Founder
Recently, Amigo Mobility was featured in The Saginaw News article Medicare-funded power wheelchairs create headache for Amigo Mobility.

Reporter Kathryn Lynch-Morin wrote “A new study released by the Office of the Inspector General shows hundreds of millions of Medicare dollars are wasted each year on medically unnecessary power wheelchairs."

‘The Scooter Store sold the beneficiaries expensive power wheelchairs that they did not want, need, and/or could not use,’ The Department of Justice wrote in 2007.

According to Medicare coverage guidelines, motorized wheelchairs should be prescribed as a last resort and are best for people with severe disabilities, as they require only slight motions of the hand to maneuver and have seats locked in place.

Medicare guidelines say mobility scooters, or power-operated vehicles, should be considered before a power wheelchair is prescribed. They are best suited for people who have mobility limitations but require help in order to participate in activities of daily living.”

"When a person is offered a more expensive product for free, they feel like they have to take it," Al Thieme said. "But people who can use POV's (power-operated vehicles) shouldn't be getting power wheelchairs."

Jennifer Kehres of Amigo Mobility International, points to the records the company keeps of customers who’ve called Amigo looking for help after receiving power wheelchairs they didn’t want or couldn’t use:

• A 65-year-old woman who got an $8,000 power wheelchair paid for by Medicare said it couldn’t fit through her door.
• Another customer, an 85-year-old Flint woman, told Amigo a power wheelchair was delivered to her assisted living home even though she hadn’t had the chance to try one out. She said she couldn’t try another type of power wheelchair or power-operated vehicle because the type she had was what her doctor had ordered. The woman asked to see the prescription: It was from a doctor she hadn’t seen in two years.

“It’s heartbreaking when you hear how frustrated these customers are,” Jennifer Kehres said. “They’re stuck and often afraid of losing their coverage or having their chair taken away all together.”

Click here to read the complete article.

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