Raising Your Voice for a Better Medicare
By Lisa Wells, Wheel-Life.org
Have you struggled to get the wheelchair repairs you need? Or found it nearly impossible to have the diabetic supplies you were prescribed (instead of another brand) delivered through Medicare's national mail order program?
Unfortunately, you're not alone. Medicare reform mistakes are hurting millions of people nationwide who depend on medical equipment and supplies for their independence and well-being.
Why 'Competitive Bidding' Is Not Nearly as Good as it Sounds
There are three major areas of concern related to the current Medicare reform program known as "competitive bidding":
- Access to care & related medical supplies
- Quality of care delivered
- Choice in care options
While "competitive bidding" sounds great, the phrase is simply a euphemism for Medicare reform efforts that are intentionally changing the way that Medicare beneficiaries can get home medical equipment or medical supplies from medical supply companies.
These changes to Medicare have impacted the local availability and/or repair process for the following types of medical equipment:
- CPAP Devices and Respiratory Assist Devices
- Standard (Power & Manual) Wheelchairs, Scooters and Related Accessories (including repairs)
- Enteral Nutrients, Equipment and Supplies
- Support Surfaces (Group 2 mattresses and overlays)
- Hospital Beds (used in the home)
- Walkers and Related Accessories
- Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Pumps and Related Supplies
- Oxygen Tanks and Related Accessories
That's why it's so important for YOU to raise your voice as your own advocate when it comes to your healthcare options and needs.
Medicare Reform Mistakes: In Their Own Words
Here's what a few Medicare beneficiaries had to say on how recent Medicare changes are impacting their daily lives.
- Barbara Music: Struggling to Breathe under Medicare Reform Mistakes
In Barbara's case, she literally depends on Medicare for the air she breathes. Unfortunately, Medicare reform mistakes are making it harder for the Sussex, NJ native to get the oxygen supplies she needs every day.
Barbara shares, "I've been breathing with oxygen 24/7 for the last 13 years. I use 4-liter oxygen containers for breathing assistance—every day, all day long. I can't live without oxygen, I would die without it. However, now competitive bidding [Medicare's reform program] is causing the oxygen suppliers to refuse liquid oxygen to patients."
- Suzanne Vilchez: Paralyzed but Progressing in Spite of Medicare Reform Mistakes
Suzanne Vilchez of College Point, NY, has a spinal cord injury and depends on Medicare for her wheelchair and other medical equipment that allows her to continue to live in her own home, for as long as possible. Unfortunately, Medicare reform mistakes are making it harder for her to stay mobile, active and independent.
Suzanne says, "Congress needs to understand that the needs of the disabled are different from the elderly. With the right DME and medical supplies, a disabled person can live interdependently, be employed and contribute to Medicare, be healthy and not need medical attention other than an annual physical, just like everyone else who lives on their own."
- Terry Francis: Medicare Reform Mistakes Leave Me, and My Wheelchair, Powerless
Terry Francis of Longmont, CO, depends on Medicare for his power chair, and other medical equipment that allows him to continue to live in his own home, for as long as possible. Unfortunately, Medicare reform mistakes are making it harder for him to stay independent.
Terry explains, "Medicare's qualifications for medical equipment are not realistic, and if I can't get equipment [or repairs to my power chair] I need due to these requirements, I suffer more pain and greater muscular degradation."
- Pat Cannon: New Medicare Requirements Make No Sense to Me or My Case Manager
Pat Cannon of Stanwood, WA, depends on Medicare for her wheelchair, adjustable bed and other medical equipment that allows her to continue to live in her own home. Unfortunately, Medicare reform mistakes are making it harder for her to stay independent. Medicare's inexplicable requirements are also baffling to her.
Pat says, "Medicare is unclear and bizarre in some pronouncements. My case manager doesn't understand it. Medicare rules say that 'durable goods' should last 15 years, including beds and mattresses. That is just plain silly. Maybe they just hope I won't last 15 years."
- Thomas Morris: Diabetes Took My Leg but Not My Right to Choice of Care
Tell Congress: Commitment to Your Health Matters
Imagine not being able to leave your house. Imagine not being able to get out of bed. Imagine struggling to breathe or to control your blood sugar.
All because your health insurance provider, Medicare, has made it nearly impossible to get the mobility equipment or supplies you need. Medicare reform mistakes don't help people in need. These mistakes hurt people—physically, emotionally and socially.
That's why YOU need to tell Congress that their commitment to your health matters. Fortunately, www.SaveMyMedicalSupplies.org provides an easy way to do just that.
Your email will ask your Congressional representatives to help protect millions of Americans with serious illnesses or disabilities by putting a stop to Medicare reform mistakes. SaveMyMedicalSupplies.org does all the delivery work for you, and it's free—all they need is for you to click the Take Action button!
From there, you'll enter your zip code so SaveMyMedicalSupplies.org can identify your local representatives. Then you'll either send a pre-written email asking for Congressional support, or you can add your two cents with a personal message before sending it off to Capitol Hill. It's that easy.
So if you use medical supplies/equipment, or love someone who does, don't wait.
It's Not Partisan. It's Personal.
SaveMyMedicalSupplies.org is an educational resource for Medicare beneficiaries, created by the American Association for Homecare and its supporting membership of home medical equipment/supply providers that serve communities across the US. As an industry of trained healthcare providers, we are committed to protecting our patients from ongoing Medicare reform mistakes that impede or limit access to quality home care. Join us in our fight at www.savemymedicalsupplies.org!
Lisa Wells has helped create several online social communities (Wheel:Life, Life After Spinal Cord Injury & iPush Foundation) to assist wheelchair users in discovering new relationships, lifestyle resources and web-based support groups.
Lisa also leads Get Social Consulting, a consulting practice that guides healthcare providers in creating online communication resources for people who have disabilities. An acclaimed speaker and guest columnist, you will find her presenting at healthcare conferences nationwide. Follow her articles at www.wheel-life.org.
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