Economists: Medicare cuts could decrease supply of wheelchairs

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When Medicare trims power-mobility benefits starting Nov. 15, wheelchair suppliers and other related services also will begin to cut back, industry analysts warn.

Some 1,500 wheelchair suppliers will exit the industry, and related costs to the Medicare system will increase by as much as $5.9 billion over the next eight years, predict economists at RRC Inc., an economics research firm commissioned by the American Association for Homecare to conduct a study.

Report authors say reimbursement cuts for power mobility devices would reduce Medicare spending by 21% to 41%. However, Medicare spending for hospitalization, physician services and homecare services would increase for beneficiaries who qualify for power wheelchairs but don't acquire them because of the cuts, the economists concluded.

The study is available at www.aahomecare.org.