News

Penis pumps cost federal government $172M

Penis pumps cost federal government $172M

GOVERNMENT WASTE?: A study shows Medicare spent millions of dollars on treatments for erectile dysfunction, and often paid inflated prices. Photo: clipart.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Penis pumps cost the U.S. government’s Medicare program $172 million between 2006 and 2011, about twice as much as the consumer would have paid at the retail level, according to a government watchdog’s report released on Monday.

The report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services said Medicare, the government health insurance system for seniors, paid nearly 474,000 claims for vacuum erection systems, or VES, totaling about $172.4 million from 2006 to 2011. Yearly claims for the devices nearly doubled from $20.6 million in 2006 to $38.6 million in 2011.

According to the Mayo Clinic, penis pumps are one of a few treatment options for erectile dysfunction.

Government waste is a major issue in budget talks in the U.S. capital as lawmakers try to reach agreement on a $1 trillion spending bill.

“Medicare payment amounts for VES remain grossly excessive compared with the amounts that non-Medicare payers pay,” said the report, dated December 2013. “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 had adjusted its payments to approximately the price non-Medicare payers pay, the U.S. government would have saved an average of about $14.4 million for each of the six years, the report said.

“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 think tank said in an email statement.

“And to those seniors who really do want one,” added Domenech, “just buy it yourself – you don’t need to send the bill to your fellow Americans.”

(Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

AP Source: Pacers sign Monta Ellis; Duncan will return & other NBA free agency news

Dallas Mavericks point guard Monta Ellis warms up in front of an advertisement paid for by The Indiana Economic Development Corp. before an NBA preseason basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. The IEDC has signed a deal with the Pacers for sponsoring the basketball court inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

A person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Ellis has agreed to terms with the Pacers on a four-year deal worth $44 million and other NBA free agency news.

in Sports

Rangers’ Martin St. Louis announces retirement

In this March 4, 2015, file photo, New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis (26) shoots against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit. Rangers forward Martin St. Louis is retiring after 16 NHL seasons, seven All Star selections and one Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. St. Louis made the announcement Thursday, July 2, 2015, roughly a month after helping the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost to the Lightning in seven games. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

The 40-year-old St. Louis was uncertain whether he would return for another season after the Rangers were eliminated, but it was clear that New York was not going to bring him back.

in Entertainment

Filmmakers bet on ‘Monopoly’ movie

monopoly

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — “Monopoly” is going Hollywood. Lionsgate says it will turn the classic board game into a…

in Sports

Wimbledon: Nadal stunned by Dustin Brown in 2nd round

Dustin Brown of Germany, gestures after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain, during their singles match, at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Thursday July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Dustin Brown, a German of Jamaican heritage with a clever touch and a throwback serve-and-volley game, beat Nadal 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court on Thursday.

in Music

‘The Boss’ joins a Beach Boy onstage

14-overlay2

East met West as the Jersey Shore musician jammed with California legend Brian Wilson.

Bellingham Traffic