San Benito Woman’s Wheelchair Repair Not Covered by Medicare

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UPDATE (3/6): San Benito resident Elida Ponce said a Good Samaritan delivered the new wheelchair to her home.

MacPherson’s Medical Supply director Brent Manning offered last week to help fix any wheelchair the family was able to purchase.

 “I would like to thank him a lot for being there, and it broke my heart when he came and left the chair there. There are good people out there still, and we don’t think about that,” she said.

Ponce said she’s grateful she can finally have the freedom to leave the house with her family again. 


SAN BENITO - A Cameron County elderly woman said she’s having a hard time getting around with her damaged wheelchair.

San Benito resident Elida Ponce said she never expected to take it in for repairs and return with nothing. She said Medicare requires documentation to pay for damages.

Ponce said she suffered a stroke two years ago.

“I was very active. So nothing matters to me anymore because I couldn’t do anything. I used to go to dances. I loved music. Now, I get embarrassed going in a wheel chair or walker, because I think people are just going to stare,” she said.

Earlier this week, Ponce said she noticed someone damaged her wheelchair and she’s unsure how.

“I didn’t notice it until later when I sat down. I noticed that it was bent on the bar,” she said.

When she and her son-in-law took the chair to get it repaired, they expected Medicare to pay for the damage. But she found out the insurance usually only covers normal wear and tear.

Ponce said MacPherson’s Medical Supply in Harlingen wouldn’t allow her to take it home.

“(It’s) not safe to give the chair back to the patient. There is a higher propensity for the chair to collapse, the patient can fall out of the chair, possibly break a hip and create problems that no one needs,” MacPherson’s Medical Supply director Brent Manning said.

Manning explained proof of the major damage must be provided to Medicare before they can replace any medical equipment.

“If you had filed a police report, with a copy of that report the system and Medicare will review that. And they would’ve been very, very affirmative and proactive about replacing that asset, as long as they have documentation as to what had happened,” he said.

Ponce said she doesn’t have the money to replace the part.

“I hunted at the pawn shops and I found one for $40, but still that was too much for me,” she said.

Manning said he was willing to help the family.

“If they can find a chair that works for $45, if they just bring the bill to me, I’ll pay for it personally,” he said.

The pharmacy director said he decided to step up and help the family because he knows the wheelchair is a necessity. He said no one wins when a loved one can’t get around.

Manning said if anyone with Medicare-covered equipment has it stolen or damaged, it’s best to document it and file a report with authorities as soon as possible. He said Medicare will then decide to cover the cost of repairs or not. 


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