Your tax dollars at work: Fed shells out $175 million for penis pumps

Your tax dollars at work: Fed shells out $175 million for penis pumps

Lest I be accused of making a mountain out of a molehill, the $175 mil was spread out over six years, from 2006 to 2011. Lest I be accused of making a molehill out of a mole mountain, the feds paid more than double the retail price.

The Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markey notes that a Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General report released today reveals that the feds spent nearly $175 million for vacuum erection systems (VES), which translates to 473,620 VES claims paid by Medicare.

The report notes that the amount paid out is twice the going price, or — in the language of the IG — “grossly excessive compared with the amounts that non-Medicare payers pay.”

Ben Domenech, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, commented on the waste, stating:

The fact that taxpayers have spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the past decade on penis pumps via Medicare is obscene and insulting — even more so when you consider that this is an arena of Medicare expenditures rife with fraud and where the government doesn’t even bother to assess medical necessity. This is a perfect example of what happens when government becomes the be all and end all of human existence — a system where everyone has a right to a taxpayer-funded penis pump.

Vacuum erection systems, which are used to treat impotence, are covered by Medicare Part B under its Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program.

The (excuse the expression) inflated price was paid by HHS despite warnings from federal watchdogs and a recommendation in 1999 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that the fee schedule for VES and five other DMEPOS products be revised downward.

“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 IG found.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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