Monday, November 06, 2006

Grievance for Scooter; Quality Complaint on Central Medical Equipment Rentals

I've mentioned before that I'm trying to resolve a certain Scooter War. It's been going on since forever. I sent in a written complaint to Health Options this morning. While it omits some of the best details about the idiocy of the scooter supplier, it's a good enough synopsis that it's pretty much self-explanatory. So I decided to simply reproduce the complaint here.

And thank you, Cindi. She gave me the name of her excellent CPAP provider, Lincare, because the scooter company is the same fool company that messed up my CPAP care. While Lincare only does respiratory work, I called their Fort Lauderdale office to see if they might possibly know of a good local scooter supplier. They did. I called them, and it turns out they take BCBS.

Now: The Idiot Company is the ONLY medical equipment company that my plan, *BCBS Health Options Medicare & More,* uses. Yup. This means if they screw up they don't care - no competition. HO despises its own Medicare & More program, and went so far as to send us a letter saying how they'd sure like us to go elsewhere. This old Medicare HMO test program must not be profitable any more.

To encourage us to leave, they provide the worst service and most limited care they can. Thus, the Idiot Company. If we want to use a different equipment provider, we have to go through this ridiculous convoluted complaint process before we're even allowed to ASK. For real. That's what this complaint is about. Since the Good Scooter Company takes BCBS, that means it's much more likely that BCBS HO M&M will accept them. They certainly can't say they don't approve of them, since parent company BCBS has already done so.

The current issue has been going on since July. My telephone complaints to BCBS HO M&M have gone nowhere. Finally, on Friday I found an educated and understanding ear. I hope this rep can indeed help. He was wonderful on the phone, wrote up a complaint, and ran upstairs to the Higher Authorities. They decided it was so complicated they'd rather have the patient - me - submit a written complaint. Great by me! This is it.

I have numerous medical issues that make it difficult, very painful, and even dangerous, to walk very much. They include these and many others: Recurring CA-MRSA cellulitis (colonized). Hospitalization and near amputation of left foot 4/04-5/04 due to MRSA. Surgery saved the foot but with significant chronic post-MRSA scarring, pain, edema, and numbness. Also: rheumatoid arthritis, synovitis, tendonitis, phlebitis, plantar fasciitis in both feet, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, asthma, and mitral valve prolapse. Complicating the recurring CA-MRSA problem, I'm allergic to the following antibiotics: Rifampin, Levaquin, penicillin, Keflex, sulfa, and erythromycin.

A recent bout of excess walking led to significant edema in the left foot, and another extremely serious case of cellulitis affecting the entire left leg from the toes to above the knee. We caught it in the very early stages. I have no doubt that otherwise, it would have meant amputation or death. This new infection means I almost can't walk at all now and need assistance even more than before.

I requested and received a scooter in 2004, which broke in 2005. In 2006 I received a replacement, but it was defective and has never been replaced. From the very beginning I have had no end of problems with the supplier, Central Medical Equipment Rentals. I have three requests.

-A working scooter, as soon as humanly possible. I want so very much to vote tomorrow.
-A different supplier, not Central Medical, because they are completely incompetent. As an alternative I request Chair Care Plus, Pompano Beach FL; they accept Medicare and BCBS.
-Transport for the scooter - either a car hitch and scooter platform, or a motorized wheelchair I can transport in my car.

First scooter (2004): They told me many times I was not allowed any method of transporting it in my car. Very recently I discovered they're made to be taken apart to put in your car. Despite all my *transport* requests Central Medical never explained this.

When that died in 2005 I was told I had to pay $500 (which I don't have) to get a new one. This isn't true. They're supposed to fix or replace it if it breaks. I found this out almost a year later and immediately called for a replacement.

The technician delivering the new scooter in July 2006 showed me two defects.
-It won't shut off when you release the throttle lever, so it keeps going until you crash into a wall. He said if you think fast you can pull out the ignition key so it stops.
-It also won't turn on right, so he said keep reinserting and jiggling the key until it does. Once this took me almost 15 minutes.

In addition:
-He couldn't figure out how to lower the seat, so it's set wrong, and I'm only 5' 2". I have to strain to reach the handles, and to reach the ignition key to keep from crashing.
-He couldn't figure out how to take it apart to put in the car.
-It won't hold a charge.
-The power is so poor it can't handle a slow incline leading into my house.

The effects of all this are both significantly more walking, and injuries from the defective scooter.
-The first year I had to walk too much because I wasn't told you could put it in a car.
-The second year I've had no functioning scooter at all, meaning more walking.
-The current defective scooter crashed into walls inside my house several times, bruising my legs.
-The defective scooter died on my driveway, so I had to crawl back into the house, cutting and bruising my hands, knees and feet, exposing them to more CA-MRSA infections.
-Walking too much into doctors' offices, getting prescriptions, and grocery shopping, means both feet were unnecessarily and permanently damaged over the past two years
-Walking too much also contributed greatly to my most recent leg infection. In fact, I have no doubt it would NOT have gotten infected if I'd had a functioning scooter.
-At a recent doctor's appointment, I had to walk about 150' into the office, and almost fainted once inside. They caught me when I fell and put me in a wheelchair, and after resting, wheeled me out to my car.

Remedy attempts: I only accepted the current defective scooter because I was ill and weak and not thinking so clearly. First thing next morning I called back and said I needed a replacement, not a defective scooter.

They sent the same technician out who brought me the defective scooter and showed me its defects - but he did NOT bring a replacement! Over the next several days, they made three appointments to bring it, but then no-showed - but never called to cancel. I'm ill and require bed rest so this was a serious problem. I'd get out of bed and wait several hours and they'd never come and never even call to cancel so I could go back to bed.

I finally called and said if you can't come then CALL ME to say so. Also, I told them over and over NEVER to call my cell phone, it was for emergencies only. They persisted in calling it. After that discussion, the next appointment was for any time before 3PM. At 3:05 they called to cancel. Several days later they came with no appointment at all. Fortunately I was up and out of bed that day.

The delivery man said he had a new scooter for me. He looked in his truck - but there was no new scooter. He re-read his paperwork and said Oh, not a new one - it was a loaner. He re-read it again and said, Oh, it's actually your old one, repaired. I said I wanted to see it first.

They had NOT fully repaired it. The front right fender was badly broken, with a jagged edge I had ALREADY cut myself on once. That cut became infected with MRSA. I refused that scooter because it was NOT repaired.

I called many more times to try to get this resolved. They said they didn't have any more new scooters but would call me when some came in. They never called. But over time they did call to see how my *new scooter* was working! I'd call and say it WASN'T working and was defective from the start and to please bring a new one. They never did.

In one conversation the rep said it was *my* fault because: -For the original scooter I signed off even though the tech didn't explain it could go in a car; -I should have requested a motorized wheelchair if I wanted it transportable. I said, How am I supposed to know the technician didn't tell me that??? I don't know about these things in the first place, that's why the techs come out to teach us! That's THEIR JOB! Not mine! The rep also said he had no record of any of my numerous calls. I said that was because they were so incompetent they didn't make any notes, but that I had records of those conversations myself, so don't worry.

I told him I'd filed a complaint. Also, that I would have withdrawn it if he'd simply said he'd get me a working scooter instead of denying responsibility for doing their job right. Now I was sick and tired of trying to work with them, and part of my complaint was that I did NOT want any equipment from them ever again. I cannot trust them to deliver or service a product that functions properly and doesn't injure me.

I got a call again November 2, 2006, asking how my *new scooter* was working. I was amazed. These people are so extraordinarily incompetent they never even told each other I had filed a complaint!

They also verified to me that they'd billed Health Options for a brand new working scooter, and HO verified it too. That is fraud. I hope very much these people are investigated for fraud because in my experience, if they're discovered committing fraud once, they've committed it many other times. For example: Although I reported the scooter was broken in 2005, I bet they've been billing Health Options for the rental throughout 2005 and 2006.


pepektheassassin said...

Geez...what about all those scooter ads you see on TV? -- the happy people scooting from hither to yon with no worries at all--"and if your health plan won't pay, we will," sort of thing.

I feel like coming to get you myself to take you to vote. If you weren't so far away....

Hey, you are as short as me! (I had imagined you taller. But then, I imagine everybody as taller, since most people are.) I took my 5-yr old grandson up to Burger King this afternoon, and as we were coming out I turned to wave at a friend and turned my ankle and landed flat out on the sidewalk, where I managed to crack my front I'll probably have to see a dentist, who'll want Big Bucks to fix it...all for four chicken nuggets!

Livey said...

Get all your docs to write them a letter too!

Cindi said...

K, that was a very good letter of complaint! I agree with Livey, you should get your docs to write a letter too.

I am glad that someone from Lincare was able to give you a reference for another scooter company. How did your scooter company mess up your CPAP care? Do they also handle respiratory needs and not just scooter care? Just confused about that.

LL said...

What a bunch of asshats! Stay on top of it.

Most excellent letter.

k said...

Pepek, on NO! Were the nuggets *worth it all*? If you were of a different turn of personality, you might sue, saying you cracked your tooth on a nugget. I hope your ankle is OK!

Those Happy Ads are ever so carefully worded to say that *if we prequalify you and you're turned down, THEN we'll pay.* I smell a lawyer in the background, marking up the ad writer's draft...

Short is good. Great things come in small packages.

I would love to have my docs write letters for me! Unfortunately, I'm what they call a *high maintenance patient.* My docs are pretty good about backing me up - but I have to ask them for so many things, I have to limit myself carefully. Some docs tell you up front that they either will or won't support your efforts in such matters. I choose docs with that as one consideration of many.

So I may have to bring them in, but I'm trying to hold off for now. Generally, my medical records alone support the things I complain about or request. My chart at my old primary's was about 3 feet thick when he retired several months ago. And that's after they weeded it out several times.

Yes indeed, the same incompetent idiots do the CPAP care as the scooters. They do 100% of any durable medical equipment jobs with BCBS HO M&M.

WELL! And just how do they expect to provide decent service with so many specialties to address? Answer: That's the whole point. They don't. And they don't care because there's no competition. So they lowballed the bid, and now cut corners by hiring cheap untrained uneducated fools, using cheapass equipment, fraudulently billing for ongoing services that have actually stopped...and geez, they're aaaaall happy.

Everyone except the patients, that is.

Sure, I should have switched plans. But I hear from people who really do know, that the others aren't much better. And the research involved in switching insurance companies makes me ill just THINKING about it.

But, switch I must. I really can't take them any more. I'd rather at least have a new array of jerks to deal with, just for a change of air.

prettylady said...

This is shocking and horrifying and disgusting and disgraceful. I am Appalled.

I am opposed to the entire paradigm of Health Insurance Companies having this sort of power to force a sick person to work with jackasses, on principle. If persons had Total Control over the way their personal healthcare dollars were spent, they might actually get some CARE.

Stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp.

k said...

PL, yes.

And one of the things that sticks in my craw the worst?

This is what's evolved in the name of *compassion.*

Some people would prefer an asshole to just admit, *Hey, I'm an asshole,* rather than pretending they aren't, as they go about their assholery.

I'd much rather deal with a straight-up jerk than have to smell the stink of deception on top of it.

BTW - I greatly enjoyed your Stomps. And on so very many levels!

prettylady said...

I greatly enjoyed your Stomps.

Thank goodness. I was momentarily afraid of offending, by stomping in the presence of one whose lack of ready stompability is the subject of this post, but then I recalled--you are not a Whiny PC Person from California. So I relaxed and stomped away. ;-)

k said...


Sitting in back of my brain somewhere is a fun draft post of that self-same Whiny PC Person from California that I am most decidedly Not.