Cost, utilization, and policy of provision of assistive technology devices to veterans poststroke by Medicare and VA.
BACKGROUND: The increase in provision of assistive technology devices (ATDs) has spurred controversy over Medicare policy aimed at reducing cost-policy that forces social isolation and conflicts with legislation, facilitating participation for individuals with disabilities. In contrast, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy does not limit provision of AT to "in home" use only but rather, states "all enrolled and some non-enrolled veterans are eligible for all needed prosthetics." OBJECTIVES: Examine ATD provision policy by comparing 2 systems, Medicare and VA. Empirically analyze differences in ATDs provided, cost, and duplication in provision. RESEARCH DESIGN: Retrospective study of VA databases, including VA Medicare data. SUBJECTS: A population based study of 12,0461 veterans post-stroke. MEASURES: Frequency of provision of ATDs by Health Care Common Procedural Code, purchase price, and capped rental payments. RESULTS: Of the poststroke veteran cohort, 39% received no AT, 56% received AT from the VA only, 1% received AT from Medicare only, and 3% received AT from both the VA and Medicare. Most ATDs were for activities of daily living, followed by walkers/canes/crutches. In specific ATD comparisons, VA costs were substantially lower than Medicare for purchased items and slightly lower than Medicare for capped rental payments. CONCLUSION: VA provides a broader variety of ATDs at a lesser cost than Medicare. Analyses of policy differences between VA and Medicare suggest VA policy is driven by veteran need whereas Medicare policy is driven at least in part, by containing costs that have skyrocketed as a result of fraudulent claims.
Winkler, SLH; Vogel, B; Hoenig, H; Ripley, DCC; Wu, S; Fitzgerald, SG; Mann, WC; Reker, DM
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