SOS: Service Our Scooters (& Power Wheelchairs)!
If your vehicle needs service, here's how to get help
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Jul 14, 2014
Are you the owner of a Medicare-provided power wheelchair or scooter that needs repairs?
Maybe your vehicle was originally supplied to you by The SCOOTER Store, which is now out of business. Or maybe you received your vehicle from a different supplier who does not perform repair work.
You’re not alone. More power wheelchair and scooter suppliers are closing their doors due to Medicare’s controversial competitive bidding program, through which Medicare purchases power wheelchairs and scooters for its beneficiaries from suppliers who offer the cheapest prices. That nationwide program is reducing the overall number of suppliers still in business and making it much more difficult for Medicare beneficiaries to find suppliers willing to do repair work.
If your power wheelchair or scooter was originally supplied to you by The SCOOTER Store, you may find it difficult to locate another supplier willing to do repair work for you. That’s because Medicare has been reluctant to pay suppliers for servicing former SCOOTER Store vehicles.
So, what options do you have when your scooter or power wheelchair needs new batteries, new tires or other services/components? Try these four steps:
(1) Tell Medicare: Call 1-(800)-MEDICARE to directly report that you’re having problems finding a supplier to repair your power wheelchair or scooter. According to industry organizations, Medicare says there is no significant repair/service problem, so sharing your actual experiences is important.
If you’ve contacted other suppliers who’ve been unable to help, mention to Medicare that you’ve tried to find a substitute supplier, but have been unsuccessful so far.
(2) You can also call the Medicare Complaint Hotline, created by People for Quality Care, at 1-(800)-404-8702. This organization reports regularly to Medicare officials and to members of Congress to keep them informed about problems that Medicare beneficiaries are having.
(3) Visit SaveMyMedicalSupplies.org, a new Web site from the American Association for Homecare. The site’s goal: To increase "consumer awareness about the painful and disheartening problems associated with Medicare reform mistakes that are restricting consumers' access to homecare medical equipment, services and supplies,” the organization said in a news announcement.
The campaign is run by AAHomecare and Lisa Wells, president of Get Social Consulting. Anna McDevitt, president of Laboratory Marketing, will support their efforts.
"The heart of the whole campaign,” Wells said, “will revolve around humanizing the policy issues that are hurting the patients we serve as care providers.”
You can visit SaveMyMedicalSupplies.org and type in your ZIP code to bring up the names of your U.S. Senators and member of Congress.
The Web site provides a sample letter that you can send to express your concern over the lack of access to wheelchair and scooter repairs. Or you can edit the letter or write your own to explain your experiences in your own words.
The Web site signs the letters based on visitor-supplied contact information and e-mails the letters immediately. The entire process can be completed in a few minutes.
(4) Fill out a wheelchair/scooter repair survey. Survey data will be shared with policy makers and legislators to make them aware of the problem. Click HERE to take the survey and/or write to Congress.
"Digital media is a powerful tool for uniting providers and consumers to make our voices heard in Washington," said McDevitt. "Our mission is to help consumers understand the power they have to speak up for their quality of care - and give them the proper tools to do so."
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.