Congressman Leonard Boswell and Aaron McKay from Senator Grassley’s office visited ChildServe in Johnston, IA on November 2, 2006. They had an opportunity to meet a few children that use power wheelchairs and their families, talk to some therapists, and also tour the ChildSere facility. The families shared the message of what the power wheelchairs meant to their children—the ability to be independent and to be kids. The therapists also reiterated the families’ message, but also explained the level of expertise that is needed in order to prescribe a high-end manual chair—that it is not just a product, but a service.
The legislators had the opportunity to see some products, including a “Group 4” heavy-duty power wheelchair with tilt, recline, precline built for a teenager with a spinal cord injury that currently retails for $24,000. Carrie Van Quathem of ChildServe shared that if the new codes are implemented, their reimbursement would be cut by almost 40% on the base, preventing them from selling the wheelchair. They also had the opportunity to see the shop area and try out a pressure mapping system and Otto Bock seating simulator.
At the end of the visit, the Congressman asked what he needed to do to make sure that the providers like ChildServe can continue to provide their current services. We asked him to sign onto HR 3559 and contact HHS and CMS to postpone the PMD codes and he turned to his aide and asked her to “make some phone calls to find out more information on where we are with this in Washington” while they were on their way to their next appointment. Mr. McKay indicated that the Senator is very interested in this issue and has already taken steps to postpone the PMD code implementation. He also expressed interest in bringing the Senator to ChildServe for a visit, which we welcomed!
Carrie Van Quathem of ChildServe stated in regards to the visit, “Overall, it was a great experience and very empowering to share our story and concerns about how all of the legislation would affect our customers. It appeared as if both were interested in supporting our cause, but I realize that it can be pretty complicated. I want to thank MAMES for providing the opportunity to meet with the representatives from the legislators’ offices during the fall conference and for encouraging us to take action. I will definitely continue to write our legislators and share our concerns! I also want to thank VGM for providing a lot of information to me and calling me with answers to my questions as I was preparing for the visit.”