MEMPHIS—NEEDED A SPECIALIZED WHEELCHAIR
Memphis Luginbill is a typical third grader. He’s kind and determined and loves to hang out with his family. For years, Memphis used a traditional wheelchair to get around at home, school and wherever else he wanted to go. When he was eight, his treatment team recommended a new wheelchair—one that would increase his independence by moving between sitting and standing positions while remaining in the chair. This would give Memphis the opportunity to bear weight on muscles he otherwise wouldn’t be able to. It would also help him participate in more activities at school and at home.
Memphis’ parents agreed with his treatment team and applied to get the new chair through Medicaid. Medicaid denied the request and stated that they would not cover the expense of a standing wheelchair under any circumstances.
Memphis’ parents and his treatment team were frustrated by Medicaid’s denial and unwillingness to discuss any other possibilities. They all knew that Memphis would benefit medically, physically, and socially from the specialized wheelchair but they couldn’t figure out how to get it covered. Following a tip from the wheelchair company, Memphis’ mother called Indiana Disability Rights (IDR).
After completing the IDR intake process with Dan and Mary, Memphis’ case was given to Justin, one of Indiana Disability Rights’ attorneys. Justin found numerous studies discussing the benefits of standing wheelchairs for children just like Memphis. Justin also determined that state and federal Medicaid laws were inconsistent. Where the federal Medicaid law allowed for standing wheelchairs when proven to be medically necessary for participants under 21, Indiana Medicaid refused to provide standing wheelchairs, regardless of age or circumstances.
Despite the inconsistency, it took over a year of appeals and reviews before Memphis was finally approved by Indiana Medicaid for coverage of his specialized wheelchair.
Memphis has now completed third grade and loves his new chair and the independence it affords him. While he has been strengthening his muscles, the impact of his new chair is not just physical. His mom says he has gained “more confidence as an individual.” His new chair allows him to participate in ways he previously couldn’t with his traditional wheelchair. During his school’s spring program, for instance, his class performed a song that included choreography. Instead of being the only one still sitting, Memphis could stand up and dance with the rest of his classmates.
His mother says that having the specialized wheelchair has “been a blessing” for Memphis and the whole family. If his older siblings are all eating at their tall breakfast bar, Memphis can now pull up and eat right alongside them. She says that Memphis now feels like he can really “be part of the family.” Because of IDR advocacy, Memphis is in a wheelchair that meets his needs and allows him to be more independent, try new things, and create new memories.
If you’d like to learn more about Memphis and how he’s paying it forward, visit: https://www.facebook.com/memphisride/
SUCCESS STORY ARCHIVES