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State Senator

Cathy Osten

Representing Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville, Norwich & Sprague

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Osten Seeks Insurance Policy Coverage for Motorized Wheelchairs

After participating over the past several years in local motorized wheelchair giveaways, state Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) has introduced proposed, bipartisan legislation that would require insurance companies operating in Connecticut to cover the cost of a person’s motorized wheelchair, including repairs and replacement batteries.

Senate Bill 15, “AN ACT REQUIRING HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR MOTORIZED WHEELCHAIRS AND REPAIRS,” has been submitted to the Insurance and Real Estate Committee. The bill is co-sponsored by state Senators Steve Cassano (D-Manchester) and Heather Somers (R-Groton).

“The determinations that insurance companies use when deciding whether or not they are going to pay for a person’s motorized wheelchair—versus a non-motorized one—are pretty loose. Some insurance companies don’t always pay for them, and as a result, there are a lot of people who are essentially confined to their homes due to their medical condition,” Sen. Osten said. “Over the past several years I’ve attended motorized wheelchair giveaways in Norwich sponsored by Phil Pavone. While I appreciate Phil’s largess, insurance companies should be providing this type of less-limiting medical equipment as a routine part of their insurance coverage. For a lot of folks a motorized wheelchair is the only thing that gets them out of their house, out to a store, to work, to see their neighbors.”

For nearly a decade, Pavone has been known statewide for his annual “Gift of Mobility” effort to collect, refurbish and then donate dozens of motorized wheelchairs and scooters to people in need. At an estimated cost of $4,500 each, Pavone has donated about 500 motorized wheelchairs and scooters over the past nine years, saving residents about $2 million.

He approves of Sen. Osten’s bill.

“Senator Osten attends my giveaways and has been very helpful,” said Pavone, who owns AZ Pawn on East Main Street in Norwich. “For some reason some folks fall through the cracks with insurance companies and are not qualified, heaven knows why. Sometimes it’s because an insurance company believes they can make do with a manual wheelchair. But these motorized chairs represent independence for people. Some of these folks are depressed, they’ve been in their homes for years, and getting an electric wheelchair is a life-changing experience for them.”

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