Disabled Monmouth man must battle Medicare to keep wheelchair

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A disabled Monmouth man is fighting to keep his wheelchair. That’s after Medicare rejected a deal to pay for it.

Carl Vollbracht puts the wheels into motion each day. Carl, 38, grew up as a double amputee after a car-train accident as an infant. His motorized wheelchair is a way of life.

“It’s everything,” he said. “If I didn’t have it, I’d be stuck at home sitting on the couch.”

But Carl recently discovered that Medicare won’t pay for the $8,000 chair after initially approving it. A Virginia judge handed down the denial to Carl and National Seating and Mobility, the company that delivered the chair.

Among the reasons, there were complaints about the chair’s tilt, pads and cushions.

“It’s not fair to leave somebody behind,” Carl said. “That’s what I feel like. I feel like they just don’t even care.”

Carl’s case is sparking an outpouring of letters from doctors and concern from parishoners at First Christian Church, where he plays drums, works with children, leads Bible study and is an active member. Right now, they really don’t know where to turn.

“It’s mostly confusion,” said Dan Simmons, an associate minister at the church.

Simmons is among those frustrated with the decision. It’s a system that seems to be ignoring a client who needs help the most.

“Of all the people I know that absolutely needs this chair, Carl is that person,” Simmons said.

Carl hopes that a meeting with Rep. Bobby Schilling’s office in Galesburg on Friday will help to clear up the matter. Otherwise, he could face losing the chair.

After undergoing major spinal surgery just four months ago, Carl continues to live on his own. But without the chair, he simply can’t move.

“We should be entitled to freedom like everybody else to get around,” he concluded.

For Carl, that means putting the wheels in motion to keep his chair.