New York – After a Bronx girl was stranded in her apartment for a month while her wheelchair was repaired, Gov. Paterson is implementing new policies to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Paterson directed the state Health Department to create new standards for cutting the bureaucracy faced by Medicaid patients who need wheelchair repairs.
“Delays that keep people captive in their homes are intolerable,” Paterson said.
Under the changes, wheelchair providers must supply loaner equipment when repairs or replacements are delayed.
Providers must also respond quickly to Health Department requests for documentation and make certain patients are trained to use their equipment.
Also, Medicaid will publish “report cards” to show patients how long it takes providers to repair wheelchairs or order new ones. The state will consider the data when awarding contracts.
Starting July 1, the Health Department will stop requiring a doctor’s order for most wheelchair repairs.
The revisions come after the Daily News chronicled the plight of Stephanie Ocana, 11, who has cerebral palsy. She was stuck in her seventh-floor apartment and kept out of school for more than a month after her power wheelchair broke and a backup became too unsafe to use.
Rehabco, the company that was fixing the chair, blamed Medicaid paperwork for the delay.