Seniors Shouldn’t Have to Wait Endlessly on Medical Equipment

Seniors Shouldn’t Have to Wait Endlessly on Medical Equipment

By Representative Daniel Webster (FL-10)

Summers in Florida are hot. As the owner of a third generation small family business, I know because our business is Webster Air Conditioning. If your AC needed repair in the middle of a Florida August and our company said we'd be out to fix it sometime around Christmas, you'd hang up the phone and move on to the next company in the phone book – probably while shaking your head!

Unfortunately, when it comes to things like wheelchairs, walkers and oxygen equipment, some seniors can't simply call the next guy in the Yellow Pages if their supplier fails to measure up. These seniors who are getting this vital equipment through Medicare often don't have another option.

Regrettably, as I traveled around Central Florida visiting dozens of health care facilities, including rehab centers and medical equipment providers, I heard firsthand from concerned health care professionals, seniors and community service organizations that too many of our seniors had been waiting for far too long to either receive their medical equipment or have it serviced. For seniors who rely on this medical equipment for their quality of life, it is imperative that it is provided, serviced and maintained in a timely fashion.

I met with the bureaucrat who oversees this program, the Acting-Principal Deputy Administrator and Director of Medicare at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). I discovered that while CMS requires that medical equipment suppliers deliver and maintain equipment in a timely fashion, CMS did not institute guidelines for what constitutes a timely fashion. Only Washington, with its infinite rules and regulations, could fail to have a specific time for services as critical as life-enabling medical equipment!

I shared with CMS how one constituent from my Central Florida district had to wait nearly five months for a replacement wheelchair. Even by the federal government's standards, we agreed this was unacceptable, and I admonished CMS to rapidly remedy these delays by establishing firm timeliness guidelines for suppliers. Fortunately, CMS responded to my concerns and has pledged to work towards a process of establishing guidelines for timely maintenance of medical equipment. I'm going to stay on top of CMS until these guidelines are in place so seniors have access to the care they need when they actually need it.

Senior citizens have spent their lives investing in their families, communities, and careers. As they grow older and experience needs, it is our responsibility to keep the promises that we have made, such as ensuring that quality Medicare services are available for those who rely on it. Although issues like durable medical equipment may not affect every senior, most of us know someone to whom this means a lot. It is the countless "little things" that make a big difference in people's lives, and I consider it a privilege to fight for improvements in seniors' quality of life.

Rep. Daniel Webster (FL-10) is a family man and small business owner who is dedicated to serving Central Floridians in the U.S. House of Representatives with honor and integrity. Webster previously served Central Florida as the Speaker of the Florida House ('96-'98) and Majority Leader of the Florida Senate ('06-'08). His business, Webster Air Conditioning and Heating, was started in 1962 by his parents, Dennis and Mildred Webster, and has been passed down through three generations spanning more than 50 years of continued service to the Greater Orlando area.