Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jerry Lewis siding with us????

Jerry Lewis and MDA have join the disability rights movement campaign to get the government (in the guise of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to back off draconian new rules on providing power chairs and scooters to people with disabilities. The new rules, set to take effect in two weeks, will make it even more difficult to get the equipment we need to live reasonably, let alone independently.

These new rules affect everybody who uses powered mobility equipment. It's not just people "confined" to their homes, as Medicare likes to think of it. It's all of us who work, go to school and otherwise participate in the life of our communities. That's because most if not all health insurance providers follow Medicare standards in supplying mobility equipment.

On the one hand, the Government talks loftily of promoting the independence of people with disabilities in education and employment, and access to everything the ADA promises.

But then at the same time they pull the rug out from under us with this kind of ruinous action. It is inside out and upside down.

The statement by Jerry Lewis and MDA gets it pretty much right:

"Under the new policy, applicants who can transfer from bed to wheelchair by standing and pivoting, with or without assistance, won't be eligible for power wheelchairs with more than basic features. This assessment doesn't account for disease progression and fatigue, crucial factors when determining the wheelchair needs of a person with neuromuscular disease, Lewis said.

More complex features such as tilt, recline, stronger motors, custom headrests, and ability to navigate uneven terrain provide wheelchair users with more independence and safety. For instance, tilt-and-recline features assist users with self-transfers, are safer on steep inclines and help prevent pressure sores.

If chairs have fewer features needed for independence, the result may be to force people out of their homes and into long- term care facilities.

In addition, the new fee schedule places a greater financial burden on low-income people with severe disabilities and the nonprofit organizations that serve them."

These new Medicare rules put crushing pressure on people with disabilities for no good reason but to save a buck. It's not medicare, it's mediterror.

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