American Geriatrics Society Testifies at Senate Aging Hearing on Power Mobility Devices; CMS Launches Demonstration Requiring Prior Authorization in 7 States
Thursday, September 20, 2012
NEW YORK, NY -- Testifying before the Senate Special Committee on Aging on behalf of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), Dr. Jerome Epplin told the Committee about the challenges physicians face in assessing a patient's need for a Power Mobility Device (PMD).
Yesterday's hearing, chaired by Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN), examined reducing waste fraud and abuse in Medicare through a demonstration program requiring prior authorization for PMDs.
Dr. Epplin - a board-certified family physician and geriatrician in Litchfield, Illinois - provided the perspective of a busy family physician and geriatrician with regard to patient evaluations for PMDs, including power wheelchairs and power operated vehicles. Dr. Epplin highlighted the issues of patients being unduly influenced by ads seen on television or received in the mail, and the pressure that physicians and other providers such as physical therapists receive from companies that sell these devices. He also noted that some patients believe these devices can be used as a convenience and not as a medical necessity.
"A more responsible approach would be for the ads to emphasize that many people who think they qualify for a vehicle may not," Dr. Epplin said. "The ads could list some of the features that will cause a patient to be disqualified from obtaining a vehicle and to highlight some of the side effects of the vehicles, such as worsening muscle weakness."
The hearing also focused on the three-year CMS demonstration project requiring prior authorization for PMDs in seven states that have seen high rates of fraud. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Florida and Texas account for 43 percent of the annual spending on PMDs by Medicare.
In our testimony, AGS expressed its hope that the demonstration project will better match patients who need PMDs versus those who would be better served by other means. AGS also urged CMS to further streamline the application and prior authorization process.
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About the American Geriatrics Society
The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a not-for-profit organization of over 6,000 health professionals devoted to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of all older people. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policy makers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy.