Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And another thing...

I believe someone needs to file a class action
suit against Medicare for classifying the iBOT
as a luxury.

They say going outside of our homes is a luxury.
That's discrimination.

6 comments:

Paul R. Bowser (Dallas,TX) said...

Shannon,

I share your frustration I have had my IBOT for six weeks.

I must say though that J&J has treated me very well and my anger rests with Medicare and the insurance companies. I am not sure a boycott of J&J products is focusing our energies in the right direction.

I do agree with you that developing a list IBOT users their location & occupation and a way to contact them would be very useful.

Shannon said...

Paul,

IT has treated me very well also. I've gotten nothing but superb customer service from them.

IT is only a division of J&J though. J&J needs to follow through with their commitment to the iBOT, IMO. They've got the money to keep it going.

I am angry with Medicare also. However, I have no idea what I can do to fight them. Not buying J&J products and spreading the word is something I do know how to do.

Guide me and I shall follow!

Irv said...

Actually Medicare paid for a small part of my iBOT purchase this year. I think it was a little over 4 grand out of the total of 24 grand. I am not sure what formula they used but my impression was they figured it as a percentage of what a "simple" wheelchair would cost. A wheelchair without balance or 4 wheel drive or stair climbing ability.
I also have doubts that a boycott gets at the problem. It might have been helpful to know when I ordered mine that this was the last year of production. I have to think they were discussing it at the time they accepted my order. But I don't see a boycott being effective other than to vent steam.
It seems to me more possible that someone might step in to save the iBOT or a version of it. And maybe that French wheelchair we looked at earlier would be better. Maybe Dean Kamen would be interested in rescuing his invention. Irv

Anonymous said...

Shannon,

A couple of thoughts...

I agree with the other posts that boycotting J&J will have little impact. Instead I would like to suggest the following:

1) Make sure we have a very clear understanding as to why J&J made this decision as well as get the names of the individuals involved in the final decision.

2) If Medicare's denial was the ultimate deathblow perhaps that's where we should focus our efforts.

3) Once we understand the factors involved I think we should leverage the power of both the media and the Internet to tell the world exactly how life-changing this device is.

3a) Media-Contact anyone that's ever done a story on the IBOT. I'm talking Dateline, 60 Minutes, CNN etc.

3b) I know some of us have used Youtube to show the IBOT off and I think it would be a great place to share our stories and build public support for the continued production of the IBOT.

As far as getting the names of additional IBOT users... perhaps we should start with the IBOT website and the folks that have provided testimonials. I have contact information for three individuals as well as another discussion forum goIBOT.com

Just some thoughts... let me know what you think.

Scott Goyette Burlington Vermont

Paul Bowser said...

Shannon,

The numbers I have heard suggest that J&J have put 200 Million into R&D for the IBOT. That doesn't include the money they've spent on sales or Technical Support.

Assuming that there are 400-500 IBOT owners nationwide, if J&J ceases sales I think it would nice if they could workout a way to provide maintenance and repairs for as long as we own the IBOT. The cost to J&J would continue to go down as the number of users decrease and I would be willing pay a yearly fee since I wouldn't be paying for a new chair.

Anonymous said...

I don't think boycotting J&J will do any good. I do think contacting the media and our elected representatives may be of some use. I'm guessing that the economy is what prompted J&J to pull the plug on the iBot. I do think that J&J probably had a flawed marketing strategy for the iBot. Instead of going through reputable wheelchair distributors, J&J decided to try to market the iBot on their own. Wheelchair distributors had no incentive to tell people about the iBot. Instead it was to their financial advantage to push other types of power wheelchairs. I think if J&J would've gone through reputable wheelchair distributors, the iBot would have been something more people could have had access to. It's only been within the last few months that people have said to me "Is that the wheelchair that can climb stairs? I saw one on TV?".

I plan on doing the following:

1) Attaching a sign to the back of my iBot that reads something like leaving the home should not be considered a luxury. I will look up the official Medicare wording in order to make the sign and I plan on having handouts with me explaining how Medicare funds wheelchairs. Since home arrest is considered a punishment for a crime, I don't think that having disabled people confined to their homes should be something that our country supports. Our government did not allow negotiations with pharmaceutical companies when they enacted Medicare part D. Why should medical equipment be any different?

2) Writing all of my elected representatives and explaining to them how important the iBot has been to improving my quality of life. I will also point out Medicare/Medicaid's position that wheelchairs should only be funded if a person needs a wheelchair to get around his or her own home. I am not a very good writer. If anyone out there can compose a letter to this effect, I would appreciate it.

3) Sending a letter similar to the one I write to my elected representatives to all of the local media. I don't think that many people are aware of Medicare's stance on funding wheelchairs.

I am surprised that I have not seen anything in the national media about J&J pulling the plug on the iBot. I doubt J&J is going to advertise the fact that they have stopped producing the iBot. I think it will be up to us to let the general public know the iBot will no longer be produced and how important it is to our quality of life. Most people don't want to think that they could ever become disabled. I think people need to be reminded that disability could happen to anyone. It only takes one accident, one disease, one medical mistake, etc. to leave a person unable to walk.

Nancy