Having Trouble Getting Your Durable Medical Equipment? Let Medicare Know!

Having Trouble Getting Your Durable Medical Equipment? Let Medicare Know!

Having reliable access to durable medical equipment (DME) and supplies is an important part of ensuring quality health care and quality of life for many beneficiaries. Millions of beneficiaries rely on wheelchairs, back braces, oxygen equipment, diabetic supplies and more to support their mobility, ease and functioning each day. When accessibility issues such as finding reliable suppliers or getting repairs impedes a beneficiary’s access to needed and medically necessary equipment, the “system” breaks down. Advocates have voiced these threatening accessibility issues to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and now CMS wants to hear about it you. They are requesting comments through August 23. Please share this request with fellow advocates, beneficiaries, caregivers and family members to make sure their/your voices are heard.

Below is more detailed information from Justice in Aging with links on how to submit your comments.

Consumers with both Medicare and Medicaid coverage face recurring problems getting approval for Durable Medical Equipment (DME), getting repairs, and finding reliable suppliers. DME includes many vital items, such as wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, home oxygen equipment, and even diabetes test strips used with a glucose monitor. After dialogue with advocates about these problems, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a Request for Information seeking more information about problems accessing these vital forms of equipment.

This is a very important opportunity to tell CMS what isn’t working and to improve access to DME. Please consider commenting and share this opportunity with others, both advocates and consumers, who can provide input to CMS.

The deadline for comments is August 23.

CMS noted some of the obstacles facing dual eligibles in getting access to DME including:

— Conflicting DME approval processes for Medicare and Medicaid

— DME access problems for people who have Medicaid first and then become eligible for Medicare

— Getting coverage for repairs, particularly getting Medicare coverage for an item originally obtained through Medicaid

— Differences between Medicare and Medicaid approved suppliers (many providers are approved for one program, but not the other)

The agency asked for examples of these problems, as well as suggestions for legislative and administrative measures that could remedy the issue.

The full list of CMS questions is here. It is very open-ended. We hope that policy advocates will talk about trends they see and specific policy changes that would help. We also hope that consumers who can recount first hand problems will respond (but since comments are public -please don’t include personal information such as a Medicare number).

File your comments on Regulations.gov. Directions on how to file are found here. It is simple. Comments can be short or long and do not need to be formal.

Please take advantage of this chance to help make DME more accessible to dual eligible beneficiaries!

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.