New Braunfels, Texas In January, The Scooter Store announced the layoff of 200 employees, a move the company attributes to the clarification of Medicare's

New Braunfels, Texas

In January, The Scooter Store announced the layoff of 200
employees, a move the company attributes to the clarification of
Medicare's power wheelchair coverage policy, issued in December by
the durable medical equipment regional carriers.

“We deeply regret the necessity of reducing our work
force,” Margaret McGuckin, the company's executive vice
president of marketing, stated in a press release.
“Unfortunately, we have no choice since the unreasonable new
‘clarification,’ when its full impact is felt, may
prevent us from serving thousands of disabled elderly people who,
with power mobility, would have been able to continue to live
independently.”

Under the DMERCs' clarification, issued as part of the Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services' 10-point plan to curb power
wheelchair fraud and abuse, power wheelchairs are covered only for
“patients who are non-ambulatory,” that is, those who
“can only bear weight to transfer from a bed to a chair or
wheelchair.”

According to The Scooter Store release, “Medicare has
provided such devices since 1996 to people needing assistance to
get around inside their home. The new ‘clarification,’
as interpreted by CMS, would deny the power mobility benefit for
any person who can take more than a single step within his or her
home.”

McGuckin called the layoffs a result of federal bureaucratic
overreaction to criminal fraud in the power mobility sector
uncovered in the Houston area last year. She also said she is
hopeful that the Medicare clarification will be revised soon to
allow seniors ongoing access to power mobility equipment.

After the reduction in its work force, the company said it will
have ongoing emlployment of 950 at its New Braunfels headquarters
and approximately 350 workers at more than 60 sales and
distribution facilities across the country.

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of the home medical equipment industry.