Medical Supplies

If your loved one needs medical equipment please read the excerpt below of an article published in The Ottawa Sun on December 20, 2009.

Aid program marred by wheelchair “ripoff”
A fund intended to help the elderly and infirm haunted by tales of waste and profiteering

By Jonathan Jenkins and Antonella Artuso, Queen’s Park Bureau

Refurbished wheelchairs for palliative-care patients who will never use them. Cushions that cost $460 but need to be replaced because they cause bedsores. An 80% markup for wheelchair vendors who are often closely associated with the doctors and the therapists prescribing them.

These are just a few of the problems rampant in the program that helps the chronically ill and elderly get wheelchairs in Ontario — a $347-million-a-year cash cow that Auditor General Jim McCarter says is getting milked of scarce health-care funds.
“If someone comes to you and says you can buy a used wheelchair for $1,000 and you have to pay $250 or you can buy a brand new wheelchair at $5,000 and your share is $2,500, I know what I’d buy,” McCarter said, adding the ministry has told him it is hesitant to recycle chairs because of liability concerns.
The lack of recycling was only one of the problems McCarter found with the way wheelchairs and other mobility devices were dealt with through the ADP, and indeed with other medical aids such as hearing aids, respiratory equipment and insulin pumps, to name a few.
At roughly one-third, or $105 million, of the total program cost, the mobility aids are the single biggest chunk and prone to the conflicts of interest and inflated prices McCarter indentified throughout ADP.
The way the system works is patients see their family doctor, a specialist or a therapist who prescribes whatever device is needed. Once authorized through ADP, the patient then gets the device from a vendor, who is supposed to earn a 25% profit. But McCarter found in too many cases vendor prices were inflated – up to 80% — and many authorizers had a cosy relationship with vendors.

To read the complete article, visit the archives at the web site for The Ottawa Sun. If your loved one requires medical equipment, inquire about the possibility of financial assistance through the Assisted Devices Program, but ask questions, get estimates, and proceed with caution. You could also inquire about the availability of unused equipment within the home.