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Medicare Power Mobility Evaluation

A recent article published in Mobility Matters by the American Association for Homecare provided an interesting expose of the bureaucracy that is employed to inhibit access to aid for power mobility.

A physician with over 35 years practicing in geriatrics explained his outrage at the overly administrative process that the federal agency that operates Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) employ.

Dr. Winakur has spent his career working with the frail and elderly, always aiming to maintain their independence and functionality within their own home for as long as possible.  He acknowledges how his medical peers across the country are doing the same thing sharing a mission – “whether as health care providers, loving family members, or concerned fellow citizens, we respect our elders' autonomy, and support them in their desire to remain at home for as long as they can stay safe and secure. If we falter in our mission, then our frail, elderly patients – often along with their spouse – will end up in a long-term care facility.”

Dr. Winakur goes on in his article to describe the process that accompanies a patient’s application for obtaining a power wheelchair or scooter from Medicare.  The ‘Power Mobility Evaluation’ as the process is named, involves extensive and duplicate form-filling, additional face-to-face consultations, and unnecessary time that detracts from a physician’s core role of wanting to serve needy patients.  He explains how many of his peers refuse to deal with the process, enraged with the too wieldy administration process.  In Dr. Winakur’s opinion this could be a very strategic ploy by CMS to deter physicians from supporting patients in their applications. 

However, he refuses to be manipulated by these tactics claiming that CMS want him and his colleagues across America to get angry and refuse to fill out the paperwork.  “They have promised our elderly and disabled countrymen the benefit of power mobility, and industry has responded to the need.  Meanwhile, CMS looks down the road and sees a tsunami of old folks rising up out of the demographic ocean. We can't possibly pay for all these scooters and power wheelchairs, they whisper to each other in closed-door meetings. Let's just make it ridiculously hard for a doctor to get one of these things for his patient. Let's swamp 'em with paperwork!  They hate paperwork!”

We have a growing elderly population and a declining physician base of specialists, yet all our government does is try and put more stumbling blocks in the way of those dedicated to providing care, and to those who entrusted their government to provide the care they needed when they needed it!  We need more in the medical profession such as Dr. Winkakur to say “enough is enough” and resist CMS’s attempts at over-complicating the administration of this process.  A ‘Power Mobility Evaluation’ should be simplified and easily qualified by a physician when he believes there is a true need.  Our elderly and infirm, who have paid their medical insurance, should easily qualify for the care and equipment they need.

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