Health Dept. Report: Medicare Is Wasting Millions Of Dollars Paying Too Much For Penis Pumps

(kevindean)

What, were you expecting a different photo?(kevindean)

When you hear about government waste, perhaps you have some vague idea of money being spent on things it shouldn’t be, like a new ping pong set for the Capitol game room or free novelty shot glasses at the White House (both are fictional examples, I think). But it’s not that Medicare is spending money on the wrong thing in this case — it’s that it might be paying close to double what it should. For penis pumps.

A new report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services [PDF] says that penis pumps cost the Medicare program $172 million between 2006 and 2011 on 474,000 claims.

So what’s the big deal? After all, the Mayo Clinic says the pumps — or vacuum erection systems — are one of the few treatment options for erectile dysfunction, notes Reuters.

HHS is peeved at the cost because well, Medicare might’ve done better shopping for the pumps on the Internet and paying half as much money as a normal consumer would, the report says.

Government waste is a hot button issue in the U.S. capital right now while lawmakers argue over the best way to balance the budget.

“Medicare payment amounts for VES remain grossly excessive compared with the amounts that non-Medicare payers pay,” said the December 2013 report. “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.”

If Medicare instead had its payments cover what non-Medicare members pay, the government could’ve saved about $14.4 million in each of those six years, the report says.

Sounds like it’s time to teach someone at Medicare how to Internet.

Penis pumps cost U.S. government millions, watchdog cries waste [Reuters]