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Power wheelchairs are unique medical devices that bringindependence to thousands of senior citizens each and every day.However, Medicare power chairs have made the news recently not becauseof their mobility-enhancing capabilities, but rather as a majorplayer in the recently signed health reform bill, or morespecifically, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The PPAC Act eliminates the first-month purchase option forpower wheelchairs. Prior to President Obama signing this act intolaw on March 23, 2010, Medicare would generally pay 80 percent ofthe price of a power chair within the first month of the patientreceiving his or her chair.

However, since this provision went into effect on Jan. 1 of thisyear, power chair providers are now receiving Medicarereimbursement stretched over a 13-month period. In a sense, powerchair providers have become renters rather than sellers.

The question still remains: How will all this affect thebeneficiaries – those who actually need the added mobility andindependence offered by a power wheelchair?

The simple answer is that the process for having Medicare cover the cost of a power chair won’t be any differentthan it was prior to PPAC Act going into effect. By and large, thisremains a four step process:

1. Contact a power wheelchair provider to discuss your optionsand get assistance with scheduling a mobility examination with yourdoctor.

2. Visit with your physician. Whether you have fallen recentlyor are suffering from a lack of balance, it is important to discussall current mobility issues with your doctor so that he or she canprescribe the proper solution for you.

3. Upon receiving a power chair prescription from your doctor,power chair companies will assist in any required Medicare documentation. These same companies will also submitthe forms on your behalf, thus saving you the trouble of goingthrough the Medicare application process.

4. Finally, if approved, the supplier will deliver the powerwheelchair right to your home, train you on how to use it andadjust the settings so that the chair comfortably fits your bodytype.

Medicare beneficiaries will see some slight differences in anyapplicable co-pays and/or deductibles. Previously, co-pays anddeductibles were paid in one lump sum. Now, with the new provisionin place, that is stretched over 13 months.

This results in a 5 percent increase in the overall cost for thepower chair, so while the total cost to beneficiaries may beslightly higher, it will be spread over a longer timeframe. Also,the actual ownership of the power chair isn’t transferred to thebeneficiary until the payment period is complete and all paymentsare received.