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On the Editor's Desk

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The NRRTS listserv celebrates its 10th anniversary today. Through the listserv, NRRTS members and Friends of NRRTS (FONs) have shared some 16,634 messages. If you're a NRRTS member and you're not registered for the listserv, you should be. It's a treasure trove of information, not to mention a great way to bounce things off your colleagues.

NRRTS members and FONs can register for the listserv by sending an e-mail to

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Friday, May 29, 2009

A new group, the Committee to Save Independent HME Suppliers (CSI:HME), released the results of a survey yesterday that ranks the top concerns of providers. Restoring payments to complex rehab came in 3rd, ahead of reforming the home oxygen therapy benefit (4th). I'd be lying if I didn't say that surprised me. (For the record: Eliminating national competitive bidding came in 1st and repealing the 36-month oxygen cap came in 2nd.)

Here's a nice story about a consumer who's making beach power wheelchairs out of used parts and renting them for $40 per day.

Here's a letter to the editor that was published in The Post-Journal in Jamestown, N.Y., that calls for requiring reflectors or some other form of lighting for wheelchairs after its writer almost hit a person in a wheelchair at night.

What's up with these Miracle on Wheels ads veiled as news stories?

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 has a new department on its Web site dedicated to selling wheelchairs and scooters. I know how sensitive providers are about e-tailing more complex HME; it doesn't look like the site sells any complex power wheelchairs.

But here's a question: Is self-measurement a good idea, even if it's for a consumer power wheelchair? boasts of this tool: "How to Measure - Shoppers will find the precise measurements they can take to ensure the wheelchair they purchase will fit correctly."

Until now, has focused on basic  HME and supplies. Other departments on its Web site: diabetic supplies and incontinence supplies.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So I'm working on a story about a mobility specialist named Tom Rapp. It's an interesting story: In June, Rapp will begin selling lighting systems for power wheelchairs on his new Web site,, to improve their safety and style. I met Rapp at the HME Exposition & Conference in April. He was riding around in a tricked out wheelchair; he was hard to miss. Rapp hopes rehab providers will see the systems, whose installation he describes as “click and play,” as cash items to supplement their power wheelchair sales. The provider he works for, Pro Rehab in Rochester, N.Y., will be one of them. “They have great marketing potential,” Rapp said. “Providers could light up chairs and put them in their storefront windows.” Now that's seeing wheelchairs in a new light.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Friday, May 15, 2009

AAHomecare's Rehab and Assistive Technology Council (RATC) submitted comments to the DME MAC medical directors this week, asking them to drop their new billing policy for wheelchair repairs. Under the policy, which went into effect April 1, providers must bill for repairs using standardized labor times. For example: With each allowed unit of service representing 15 minutes of slabor, they must now bill only two units to repair or replace a battery on any power wheelchair.

The policy has resulted in an "almost 50% reduction in coverage for labor from previous levels," according to the RATC.

In the letter, the RATC takes the medical directors to task for not putting out the policy for public comment. It also charges that the policy is a coverage determination, not a payment determination.

We'll have more in our NewsWire on Monday.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It may be long, at 339 pages, but I'd imagine the "Industry Profile on Wheeled Mobility" recently published by the University of Buffalo is a must read for rehab providers. In five chapters, it details "funding and legislation, standards, accessible public transportation, wheelchair transportation safety, along with an interpretive overview." Two additional chapters cover market demographics and a comparative analysis of consumer perspectives.

You'll recall that the industry is working with University of Buffalo and Georgia Tech University to compile a broad study of the power mobility market. This profile is a separate effort.

Liz Beaulieu

by: Liz Beaulieu - Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Five times more people are living with spinal cord injuries than doctors thought, according to a report released in April. About 1.3 million Americans are living with the condition. Overall, 5.5 million Americans are living with some degree of paralysis due to a variety of neurological problems—everything from multiple sclerosis to strokes—according to the report authored by Anthony Cahill, a disability specialist at the University of New Mexico.

Possible reasons for this population, until now, being largely hidden: Cahill suggests that less extensive injuries have often gone uncounted—“They’re not all Christopher Reeves,” he told The Associated Press—and people are living longer with paralysis.

With advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cahill surveyed 33,000 U.S. households to measure how many people are living with some form of paralysis.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation plans to use the findings to push for health policy changes. One of its targets: Insurance policies that forbid $400 air cushions for wheelchairs until a patient suffers a skin ulcer that can require a $75,000 hospital stay.

For more information on the University of New Mexico's Center for Development and Disability, go here.

Liz Beaulieu