Do Medicare and Medicaid issue wheelchairs that contribute to keeping people homebound?


Angela Congdon

Faculty Mentor(s)

Naomi Petersen


Medicare and Medicaid only issue wheelchairs to people who need one to get around their own home. If wheelchairs do not have the ability to navigate typical outdoor surfaces or climb slopes such as a standard vehicle wheelchair ramp, they can contribute to keeping people homebound. This project examines how the standards for the specifications of wheelchairs issued by Medicare and Medicaid may limit users’ abilities to participate in activities of daily living outside their home.

Keywords: Wheelchairs, Accessibility, Disability, Diversity, Sustainability


8 thoughts on “Do Medicare and Medicaid issue wheelchairs that contribute to keeping people homebound?”

  1. Pam McMullin-Messier

    Interesting question, as it raises an issue with a need for a change in policy for Medicare/Medicaid. What would benefit your study is evaluating the barriers to why the focus is only on usage in the home, but not accessibility to being able to go outside in the specifications for warranty of the wheelchair. How much of an issue has it been, though – e.g. does this vary by age of the user in terms of limitations to being homebound? Have you identified what sources you will be looking at for your research, to triangulate, as that was not discussed in the presentation.

    1. Hello, thank you for your comment. I am finding Medicare and Medicaid documents about the rules and standards for providing wheelchairs, and also have found a few academic papers looking at how the in-home standard contributes to keeping people homebound by not giving them wheelchairs if they need them to navigate outside their homes. So, I’m trying to go a small step beyond existing research to look at how the specifications of the wheelchair itself can contribute to keeping people homebound even if they are issued a wheelchair.


  2. Hello Angela,
    I enjoyed watching your presentation! I found it be well articulated, thorough, and concise. I think it’s great that you’re a HCA and that you’ve decided to minor in Accessibility Studies. I found your research question quite interesting! I love how you begin your presentation as well by discussing how environmental factors can effect an individual and their capacity. It’s disheartening to hear that there isn’t much (if any) consideration or concern for life and living beyond the home.
    Great job!

  3. Hi Angela! Wow! This is some radical investigative journalism. Thank you for raising awareness around this clear injustice to those who depend on wheelchairs for basic mobility needs and quality of life. The implications and possibilities for change around the types of wheelchairs being provided is huge! An assertion you state that particularly popped out to me was that a person’s wheelchair shouldn’t be the thing keeping them from going out and doing things.
    Thank you also for the well-designed presentation and clear narrative throughout. I really like the project goals slide and your discussion and easy-to-grasp explanations around each of the points.

  4. Thank you for this really informative presentation. Showing the limits in how accessibility needs are sometimes determined was really enlightening and helpful. I appreciated the way you show the complexity of real life situations that must go into accessibility decisions if we are going to act equitably.

  5. Hi Angela! This is such an interesting topic to learn about! I think that there are so many implications regarding the wheelchairs covered through these programs that could be found to impact so many different groups. I will be super interested to hear what you find in this research!

  6. Wow, this presentation has been informative. From listening to this presentation it seems like there is a need for change and better access. Would you recommend a person be issued multiple wheelchairs or is there one that would be able to do all the functions? I think you presented the information well. It was well formulated and I think you gave a thorough explanation. I agree a person’s wheelchair should not be a limitation, great job on this presentation!

    1. Hello Madison, thank you for your question. I do not think issuing multiple wheelchairs to each person would be cost-effective, and most wheelchair users would not have the ability to store more than one wheelchair. Instead, I would recommend making sure that whatever wheelchair is issued has the specifications to deal with the majority of situations inside and outside the home that the user might encounter in their typical activities of daily living. For instance, if the evaluator knows that the client will need to be able to get the wheelchair into a medical transport van, they would want to make sure to issue a wheelchair that can handle a slope in the 9-11 degree range that is standard for vehicle wheelchair ramps. A wheelchair that can climb a 10-degree ramp can also navigate on a flat surface, so it would expand the client’s access to wheelchair-accessible transportation without limiting their ability to navigate in their home.

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