A new policy in Louisiana requiring nursing homes to pay for durable medical equipment is the result of a report by the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals that found Louisiana's Medicaid agency erroneously spent more than $4 million on wheelchairs for nursing home residents, some of whom died before ever receiving them. In the report investigating Medicaid abuses, the state agency cited instances of nursing home residents receiving costly, motorized wheelchairs while in comas, on their deathbeds or after they had died. "Multiple incidents such as these . . . and a report of unused wheelchairs piling up at one state-run nursing home illustrate the need for a more effective system of monitoring and distributing these items to nursing home residents," the state report found. The new program will shift responsibility for purchasing durable medical equipment from Louisiana Medicaid to nursing homes, which will receive a reimbursement hike to help cover the costs. The program changes are expected to save $7 million per year. Department spokeswoman Kristen Meyer said the nursing homes have a better idea of patient needs and the shift "should encourage more responsible use of equipment." Meyer also said the CMS, which investigated abuses in the Louisiana program, mandated the changes. -- by Mark Taylor
La. equipment policy seeks to curb Medicaid abuse
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