My graying power chair was purchased when I was working part time here by vocational rehabilitation in 2000. Medicaid began replacing the batteries a few years ago and the custom seat cushions. Medicaid does not pay for repairs under $100 so my sister has been. A year and a half ago I found a dead spot in the joystick/controller which caused it to hesitate and coast. I was afraid that the joystick would fail to stop the power chair and cause an accident. The Medicaid vendor was called but dropped by when I was out. A few weeks later while exiting my van, my power chair failed to stop. When it hit the end of the lift, I was thrown out and landed on the parking lot three feet below. Luckily, I was not hurt badly, but the emergency squad was called to help me up.
After that incident my chair would not run and the left armrest would not elevate. I had to be pushed the rest of that shortened, shaken up day. After returning to the facility I called the vendor who came the next day and repaired a loose battery connection. But they felt the joystick/controller was operating. They said since Medicaid no longer reimbursed mileage for my vendor's trips to the nursing home, I would need to go to them for repairs ... even in an emergency.
During a February outing my chair died. The joystick/controller switch would not stay in the "on" position. I called the vendor but there was nothing they could do that day. So I was pushed in "free wheel mode" the rest of another shortened day. The next day the vendor loaned me a joystick/controller that my driver picked up and installed to give my chair power. I also was using a vendor-loaned battery charger while waiting for Medicaid to purchase one for me.
The vendor sent Medicaid bids for my power chair's repairs. A rebuilt controller/joystick would be over $2000, and a new battery charger was $400-$500. I wondered if Medicaid would turn down those claims because of my power chair's age. Then Medicaid requested a bid for a new power chair. Not long after Medicaid called me to say there was a problem. I suggested a conference call with myself, Medicaid, and the vendor. Then I heard nothing for quite a while. The vendor told me that Medicaid had authorized a seat cushion for my power chair. They assumed it was for my new one. I do not know if the vendor and Medicaid ever had a discussion about the problems with my case. Months went by I felt like I was stuck in the middle of a maze.
I was grateful that my chair was running, but I knew I needed a new one. I wrote letters to my state representative, state senator, governor, my congressman, and both US senators. Most of them sent me letters saying they were referring me to Medicaid. I was determined that I would get a new chair if I had to write a letter to the editor of every local newspaper around here.