Military family says TRICARE plans to repossess son's electric wheelchair after losing coverage

Tricare may make family give wheelchair back

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - Christian Mueller, 23, has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder.

"Walking around isn't the easiest thing for me," he said. It is a progressive disease and he knows it will eventually get worse.

"My wheelchair is going to be my only option after awhile," said Mueller.

Last August, the college student was fitted for an electric wheelchair, approved by TRICARE, a health insurance program for service members and their families.

"I've missed out on a whole lot of things," he said, "but now I finally have the opportunity to do some of those things."

But that may be short-lived. In January, Mueller turned 23 and was dropped from TRICARE coverage. And now he may lose his wheelchair.

"It is definitely useful to me; it is critical," he said.

The thought of their son losing his wheelchair has his parents very upset.

"I don't know why they would want the chair back," said Linda Mueller. Mueller said apparently TRICARE was leasing the wheelchair from a medical equipment company, when she thought it was purchased and after her son became ineligible for coverage, the payments stopped.

"It has been very traumatic for me and his dad," she said, "this is our child."

Now they're trying to get him enrolled in TRICARE for Young Adults which would give him coverage up to age 26, at a cost of $310 a month. 

But there are still questions. Why was the chair leased and not purchased in 2016?  If he's eligible for TRICARE for Young Adults will he be able to keep his wheelchair?

The Mueller family has a legacy of service to country as they watch what is happening with their child they have become very disappointed in the country's service to them.

"He may not live long and now TRICARE is putting more stress upon us," she said, " what are we suppose to do? We can't afford a $6,000 wheelchair."

"That is not the outcome we would want," said Mark Krogan.

Krogan, by law, cannot address the specifics of the case but said they will review our questions and respond.

He also suggested that the family take up their fight with the patient advocate at the Naval Hospital at NAS Jacksonville.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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