Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I GOTTA KEEP ROLLIN'

I began using  a power chair in high school.  I may have mentioned, in a previous post, that my eighth grade teacher was disabled and a former student at the school.  She used a power chair for a while. When she didn't need it anymore, she left it at the school and I was fortunate enough to be the one who was given the opportunity to use it at school. The freedom it gave was indescribable.

My senior year in high school, we began looking into getting me my own power chair. I remember when they brought one to school for me to try out.  It was a chair from England.  I had that chair for many years and had very few problems with it.  But when I needed a new chair that chair wasn't available here anymore.  I guess it was too costly to bring to the States.

Shopping for power wheelchairs used to be like shopping for a new car.You would have the opportunity to see and try out a variety of different chairs and choose the one that best suited your needs.  Unfortunately,it is not that easy today.  

Today there are no more wheelchair showrooms.You are shown pictures instead of the actual wheelchair.  Your need must be verified by your physician   If you want a new chair,the vendor selling the chair must prove to your insurance company that there is a medical need for the chair you want. A twelve page form must be filled out and a physical therapist must come out to your home to asses your needs. If it's proven that the chair you want does not fulfill a medical need, you will be denied the chair you requested.  Probably sold a different chair. One that is more cost effective for Medicare or Medicaid. 

I have had the same power chair since  nineteen ninety-nine.  It's nothing fancy. In fact, I have been told that the design is a manual chair with batteries and motors attached. I like the chair because it is not that big and heavy.  It works well in my house. I desperately want a new chair, but I want the same model or as close to what I'm using now as possible. 

The manufacture of the chair I want  is in a decent decree with the FDA. The manufacturer failed to follow the proper rules and regulations as set forth by the FDA.  While the FDA reached an agreement with the manufacturer in December 2012, vendors are still not allowed to sell the chair I want because (from what I gathered from my research) the manufacturer has not passed audits and inspections subject to the approval of the United States District Court of Ohio.

I keep being put off.  First, I was told everything would be settled in June, then September and now I was told, hopefully, January. I don't really care what rules and regulations were broken by the manufacturer. I care that because they are not fixing their issues in a timely manner, I, along with many other disabled people, cannot get the chair we want.  Because my chair is old, the motors could stop working and at any time.  I pray that doesn't happen before I can get a replacement chair.

Those who make the rules at Medicare and Medicaid, as well as those who manufacture wheelchairs,don't spend eighteen hours a day in them. Give more control back to the consumer. Think about what's best for the person,, not just what's cost effective. I was told couldn't get a softer cushion because I don't have any skin breakdown. Rather than letting me have a softer cushion, to prevent me from getting pressure sores, my insurance company will only allow me to have a different cushion if I have a problem. What sense does that make?

Insurance companies should be concerned with the comfort and well being of individuals using wheelchairs, not just what's in their best interest.