"ACTION ALERT!  Restore Access to Wheelchairs"

From the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and
Medicaid Coalition:

TAKE ACTION 

RESTORE ACCESS TO WHEELCHAIRS FOR SENIORS AND PEOPLE WITH
DISABILITIES, MAKE CMS RESCIND ITS POLICY CLARIFICATION


In a December bureaucratic reaction to fraud in the power
wheelchair industry, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services (CMS) issued a new policy clarification that
severely limits access to wheelchairs.

The policy instructs the Durable Medical Equipment Regional
Carriers (DMERCs) that if a "patient is able to walk either
without any assistance or with the assistance of an
ambulatory aid, such as a walker," the patient is
considered ambulatory and is not entitled to coverage of a
power mobility device - or even a manual wheelchair.  This
decision does nothing to prevent fraud.  What it does is
threaten the access of beneficiaries with legitimate
mobility needs to these essential technologies.

We need you to help make this happen!!  In order to create
change we need to:

1. Send letters to the decision makers; and
2. Identify people who have had problems obtaining access
   to power and manual wheelchairs.

We urge you go to the ITEM Coalition Web site --
http://www.itemcoalition.org/takeaction.html -- to send a
letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Acting CMS
Administrator Dennis Smith and your Members of Congress
telling them that this policy is wrong and must be
rescinded.  We need to raise our voices and demand that our
nation's seniors and people with disabilities who need
power and manual wheelchairs to be healthy, independent and
fully functional continue to have access to these important
mobility devices.

In addition, we need to demonstrate the problem by finding
individuals - you or people you know - who have had
difficulty obtaining manual and power wheelchairs.  We
welcome stories that are not directly related to the policy
change, including those that help people understand the
barriers presented by the "in the home" limitation under
Medicare coverage policy.

Please submit your story to info@itemcoalition.com.  If you
are willing to share your story as part of this effort's
public education campaign, please include contact
information, including your name and a phone number where
we may reach you.

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