Pricey penis pumps cost Medicare millions - Tucson News Now

Pricey penis pumps cost Medicare millions

The government paid around $86 million too much for penis pumps, according to a new report. The government paid around $86 million too much for penis pumps, according to a new report.

(RNN) - According to an Inspector General's Office report, vacuum erection systems cost Medicare $172 million in six years, and the program was paying far more than retail cost.

"Medicare payment amounts for VES remain grossly excessive compared with the amounts that non-Medicare payers pay," the report said. "Medicare currently pays suppliers more than twice as much for VES as the Department of Veterans Affairs and consumers over the internet pay for these types of devices."

The device is one of a few treatment options for erectile dysfunction, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The report states a penis pump is considered a type of DMEPOS - durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies - that are eligible for coverage.

The report was done between 2006 and 2011 by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services. It said Medicare paid nearly 474,000 claims for VES totaling $172.4 million, at an average cost to the government of $360 each.

The VA pays $185 per pump.

Had the health insurance program for seniors paid the price other customers pay, $14.4 million a year could have been saved, or $86.4 million over the six years.

"Considering the strain retiring baby boomers will soon be placing on Medicare's budget, shouldn't we be focusing this entitlement program on real, life-saving treatment and equipment to serve the health needs of seniors - instead of subsidizing penis pump purchases?" Ben Domenici of the Heartland Institute told Reuters. "To those seniors who really do want one, just buy it yourself - you don't need to send the bill to your fellow Americans.

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