Interactive U.S. Map Shows Medicare Complaints
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Aug 15, 2014
Are you or a loved one having home medical equipment issues with Medicare?
In recent years, Medicare has made multiple significant policy changes that impact not just the types of equipment that Medicare beneficiaries receive, but also which equipment providers beneficiaries can work with and which providers beneficiaries can contact when the equipment needs service or repairs.
The list of equipment impacted by the new policies is long: many types of manual and power wheelchairs, scooters, hospital beds, walkers, oxygen products, and diabetic supplies, among others.
Medicare’s new competitive bidding program has reduced the number of providers that can work with Medicare beneficiaries. Prior to the program, beneficiaries could choose which provider or dealer to work with – and beneficiaries usually chose to get their equipment from providers and dealers who were in their neighborhoods and offered excellent customer service.
Now that Medicare has sharply decreased the number of providers and dealers it’s working with, beneficiaries may have to work with dealers who are out of town – or even out of state – and may have limited options even if the dealer doesn’t provide good service.
As a result, if you’re having difficulty finding someone to repair your wheelchair or scooter, or you’re having problems finding a dealer to provide your equipment in the first place, you’re not alone.
People for Quality Care (PFQC) has been tracking beneficiary complaints across the country, and a new interactive map shows how many Medicare complaints have been filed state by state.
By clicking on a specific state on the map, viewers can see how many complaints have been filed and read summaries of those complaints.
For instance, the scooter-related complaints from New York beneficiaries include one from "Arlene," a patient, who “is having trouble with her scooter and is unable to get it serviced because of the changes made in Medicare." Another patient, Joan, filed a complaint with PFQC that says, she “has a broken scooter and can't find a provider who will fix it for her."
In California, a patient named Ephrain "is having difficulty finding a contracted provider to repair wheelchair," while Rachel, a healthcare provider, complained that she "works in a rehab facility and is trying to get wheelchair for her 88-year-old patient. After weeks of being run-around, the approved provider admitted they were overwhelmed and it would be awhile until [the beneficiary] receives [the wheelchair]."
As this story went to press in mid August, PFQC had logged nearly 3,300 individual Medicare-related complaints in its system.
Medicare beneficiaries, their family members and caregivers, and healthcare professionals can log their complaints via PFQC's "Dear Medicare" Web page. After they tell their stories, beneficiaries can also indicate if they'd like their complaints shared with members of Congress, who have the power to address and change Medicare policies.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.