Advocacy groups call on Congress to rescind new power wheelchair policies

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Wheelchair makers and senior advocacy groups are lobbying Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services Friday to rescind new policies that limits Medicare coverage for power wheelchairs.

The new policies were implemented September 2003, when Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and HHS' Office of Inspector General announced a crackdown to stifle fraud after seeing a dramatic increase in claims for power wheelchairs.

Restore Access to Mobility Partnership, a new coalition, said the regulations will deny wheelchair use to residents who are able to walk a few steps. RAMP contends that people with cardiopulmonary disease who can physically walk may be putting themselves in danger by walking. Patients with progressive neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, also may be denied mobility until they become completely debilitated, the group says.