Durable medical equipment refers to any specialized piece of medical equipment that a doctor prescribes for a patient to use at home. It must be able to be used on a long-term basis, be medically necessary, and not be useful to a person who is not ill or injured.
Even though hygiene is an extremely important part of life, Medicare and many private insurance companies consider bathing and showering equipment conveniences, not medical necessities, and deny DME claims. However, with persistence you can get funding for the equipment you need.
Congress has been tightening restrictions on Medicare’s DME reimbursements in an effort to cut costs. Medicare often rejects claims for bathroom-related DME, but disability advocates recommend filing a claim anyway, along with a prescription and letter of medical necessity. If your claim is denied, you can appeal and possibly get the item covered, although the process can be lengthy.
Medicaid coverage for DME varies from state to state. Several states follow the Medicare guidelines related to durable medical equipment. Many Medicaid waivers provide some funding for various types of DME. Check with your caseworker or state Medicaid office to see if coverage is available.
If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for coverage for a shower chair or grab bars from the Department of Veterans Affairs if your doctor says the equipment is medically necessary. The VA also offers the Special Home Adaptation grant to veterans with service-related disabilities for home improvements to increase mobility. Grants of up to $10,000 are available for veterans who are permanently and totally disabled as a result of military service.
Private insurance companies vary in terms of coverage for DME, but the trend is toward following restrictive Medicare guidelines. However, some newer insurance companies are more likely to cover bathroom DME.
If your insurance claim for durable medical equipment is denied, you have the right to appeal. You may be able to get the decision reversed if you have a letter of medical necessity and a doctor who is willing to fight on your behalf. If you are persistent, your efforts may pay off and your equipment may be covered.Read More
Some New York residents who use wheelchairs and their advocates are pushing for new legislation that would require transportation services such as Uber to have more wheelchair-accessible vehicles. They wrote a letter to 213 state legislators saying that pending bills to regulate transportation network companies need to protect their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The bills would prohibit transportation network companies from charging more for services to passengers with physical or mental disabilities, but they do not explicitly require the companies to provide all passengers with equivalent service regardless of disability status. The advocates want to ensure that passengers with disabilities receive safe and dignified service.
Uber has been operating in New York City for four years, and there are more Uber cars than yellow taxis on New York streets. Uber and another transportation service, Lyft, operate in New York City but not in other cities or towns in the state.
Uber said it works with green taxis in northern Manhattan and the city’s other boroughs outside the area where yellow taxis operate to serve customers with disabilities. It said it provides about 300 trips per week and has an average pickup time of five minutes.
An Uber spokesman said the company’s app was created to improve access to safe, reliable transportation for all passengers. He said the company is looking for ways to expand its services for disabled passengers. Advocates and New York residents who use wheelchairs want more. They are urging lawmakers to pass requirements for all taxi services in the city, including areas where ride-booking services may begin to operate.
According to the Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York, there are an estimated 90,000 wheelchair users in the city and as many more in the rest of the state. According to census data, there are almost 1.2 million New York state residents with a variety of ambulatory disabilities.
New York currently plans to make half of the almost 14,000 yellow cabs in the city wheelchair-accessible by 2020. The Taxi and Limousine Commission requires all for-hire vehicle base stations to provide some accessible vehicles. The commission sold 100 pairs of medallions for wheelchair-accessible yellow cabs two years ago, which almost doubled the number in the city. Buses, trains, and some subway stations in New York are also wheelchair-accessible.
New York City has made significant progress in terms of providing wheelchair-accessible transportation for residents and visitors with disabilities, but more work remains to be done. We hope that the needs of disabled passengers will be taken into account when legislators meet to debate the bills currently before them.Read More
The United Spinal Association will host its 4th Annual Roll on Capitol Hill Legislative and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. from June 7 to 10. The event will be held at the Marriott Marquis, which is located only blocks away from the White House and many other famous Washington landmarks. This year’s event will take on special importance because 2015 is the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Roll on Capitol Hill is an annual legislative advocacy event that addresses issues affecting the health, independence, and quality of life of people with spinal cord injuries and disorders. The event brings together members of the United Spinal Association’s 47 chapters, 200 support groups, and over a million individuals from across the United States who are affected by spinal cord injuries and disorders. The Roll on Capitol Hill will include a variety of events, such as education sessions, speaker panels and presentations, advocacy training, and a sponsor expo.
Representatives of the United Spinal Association will meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for the SCI/D community. They plan to take up issues such as the need for better access to individually-configured wheelchairs and assistive technologies, accessible transportation, and community-based supports and services.
The United Spinal Association will give awards to members of Congress who have worked on behalf of individuals with spinal cord injuries and disorders. The group will also host an advocate recognition breakfast to honor the accomplishments of individuals who have worked to bring about changes to improve the lives of people with SCI/D.
The United Spinal Association was founded in 1946 to provide advocacy and direct services to people affected by spinal cord injuries and disorders. The organization works on behalf of people with multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, and ALS and disabled veterans. We support their valuable work and tireless efforts on behalf of the SCI/D community across the country.Read More
HDS Medallion will be selling our wheelchair and walker bags at the Abilities Expo from Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 3 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison, New Jersey. The event will be held Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Abilities Expo is an annual event that brings together people with disabilities from across the country to share information and resources. The event features speakers, workshops, vendors, and demonstrations of products that can improve quality of life for individuals with disabilities.
HDS Medallion will be at the Abilities Expo in Booth 609. Come visit us to see our collection of stylish and versatile wheelchair and walker bags. We will have daily drawings for a free bag and will offer show specials of 5% off our Demi-Premier bags, 10% off our Metro and Premier bags, and 15% off our Classic bags. If you are a repeat visitor, be sure to ask for an additional 5% off.
We will also be debuting several new bags at the Abilities Expo. If you love purple, blue, or black, come check out our Mulberry Criss-Cross, Amethyst Grandeur, Jeweled Ribbons, and Royal Blue Lumina bags.
We hope to see you at the Expo! We would love to see everyone who has stopped by over the past three years and meet some new folks, too!Read More
Improved lower body exoskeletons are giving new abilities and hope to people with limited mobility. They are helping patients relearn how to walk and reeducating their nervous systems. Exoskeletons can help patients take more steps in physical therapy sessions than other methods. Exos have been improving and are more adjustable and sophisticated than they were just a few years ago. They are allowing people to move faster and in spaces that would have been inaccessible.
Lower body exoskeletons can be used for gait training, mobility, and exercise. They can help users improve their balance, conditioning, and neuromuscular cortical activity; reduce spasticity and pain; and improve their quality of life. Although many people say they have dramatically improved their mobility, exos have not been studied rigorously and are prohibitively expensive for many people.
ReWalk was the first exoskeleton to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sale to individuals. It can be used for gait training and personal mobility. ReWalk has sensors that monitor upper body motions and trigger stepping and gait patterns for walking and shifting from sitting to standing positions. Users can use their hands. ReWalk is recommended for T4 and lower injuries and can be used for 3.5 hours of walking on one battery charge.
The makers say people who use ReWalk have reported improvements in balance, core strength, bowel and bladder function, bone density, body composition, fitness, and sleep patterns and less pain, spasticity, hospitalizations, and need for medications. The company can work with purchasers to help them get reimbursement for ReWalk from their insurance companies.
The Ekso Bionics exoskeleton lets a user shift weight and activate footplate sensors to initiate steps. It has a variable assist mode, automatic mode, and manual mode. It can also be programmed to walk at a specific speed and stride length. Ekso adjusts depending on the user’s level of muscle control. It can also be adjusted for a person with different amounts of strength on each side of the body.
The Ekso is currently classified as a “Class II pending” medical device (medium safety risk) for functional-based rehabilitation, over-ground gait training, and upright weight-bearing exercise. It is intended to be used under the supervision of a physical therapist and can fit a wide range of users.
Parker-Hannifin is working on the Indego to help people relearn how to walk and to serve as a mobility assistive device for those who are fully or partially walking-impaired. It is intended to be used in conjunction with a wheelchair, not to replace it. The company intends for it to be used to help patients with spinal cord injuries, MS, strokes, and other neurological problems
A user can stand up and walk with the device compensating for muscle weakness. Mild vibrations and LED lights signal to the user when the Indego is about to initiate a step. It has a five-piece design with a back component, two upper leg pieces, and two lower leg pieces with integrated ankle-foot-orthoses. The pieces can be carried in a bag and are easy to put on and take off. Indego can support a person with level 3 spasticity.
These exciting innovations are giving new abilities and hope to people with limited mobility. We have been privileged to observe these devices being demonstrated at several Abilities Expos. It is heartwarming to see people move and walk who have been unable to for a long time. Their joy is obvious. As technology continues to advance and prices diminish, we hope that more people will be able to improve their mobility with these exoskeletons.Read More
The City of Los Angeles has reached a tentative agreement with disability advocates to spend $1.4 billion to fix crumbling sidewalks that do not provide people who use wheelchairs with the adequate public access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2010 by Communities Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF) and several disability advocates. The plaintiffs alleged that Los Angeles discriminated against disabled residents by not fixing damaged sidewalks; not repairing sidewalks with curb cuts that were too steep for wheelchairs; not removing obstructions that blocked sidewalks, such as signs and trees; and not ensuring enough access to public transportation via sidewalks. It is estimated that 40 percent of the sidewalks in Los Angeles are in need of repair.
Damaged sidewalks have been a problem for disabled Los Angeles residents for decades. Many residents of Los Angeles have been involved in accidents related to broken sidewalks. The city has paid over $6 million in damages related to trip-and-fall lawsuits since 2011.
According to the settlement, which still needs to be approved by a judge, the City of Los Angeles has 30 years to repair or replace damaged sidewalks. It is required to spend $31 million per year to improve sidewalks starting in 2016 and gradually increase it to $63 million per year in the future. The settlement also requires the city to pay $15 million in attorneys’ fees and costs.
This settlement is an important victory for disabled residents of Los Angeles. Cities and towns have a responsibility to make sure that their public spaces are accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.Read More
Working with a disability can be a challenge, but many people who use wheelchairs have overcome difficult odds and discrimination and found success in the workforce. We found some inspiring stories in New Mobility magazine that we wanted to share with you.
Renee Tyree, 49, knew from an early age that she wanted to be a doctor. When she was enrolled in college as a pre-med student, she was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, which caused lower limb paralysis. She encountered problems with an inaccessible college campus and people who tried to steer her away from her dream of becoming a doctor. She transferred to the University of Arizona, which was more accessible and had more supports in place for disabled students. She competed in the Paralympics in Spain and graduated as a doctor of pharmacy in 1993.
Tyree encountered discrimination in some jobs by people who questioned her abilities, but she persevered and won several promotions. She now works as a clinical implementation specialist, setting up computer operations systems for hospitals. She attributes her success to staying focused on her goal, putting people at ease, and giving them chances to ask questions.
Justice Ender, 29, was born with VATER Syndrome that caused a slanted pelvis, legs of different lengths, and small stature. He overcame abuse, an adoption that didn’t work out, and living without basis necessities and found a career as a media specialist and freelance writer. He advises other job seekers with disabilities to work as much as possible to avoid resume gaps and to network with others who might be able to offer them jobs.
Liz Davis, 24, was born with sacral agenesis. She uses a power wheelchair outside and a manual wheelchair to get around indoors. She studied graphic design and works as a web catalog administrator who designs, builds, and maintains web/e-commerce stores. She was fortunate to find a job in her hometown with an employer who is willing to work around her medical appointments. Davis says she works as hard as possible and always strives to do better.
Kip Johnson suffered a C5-6 complete spinal cord injury from a skiing accident six months before graduating from high school. His aunt helped him finish his studies, and he devoted the next two years to rehab. He tried several jobs before finding success as a real estate agent. Johnson and his fiancée plan to get married this August.
These individuals provide that people with disabilities can succeed in the workforce. With determination and perseverance, people who use wheelchairs can demonstrate their abilities and contribute to their chosen fields.Read More