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 Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Jan. 27

jacksonpepsi

A look back on some of Hollywood's biggest headlines.

in Sports

Patriots owner makes strong defense of team

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft shakes hands with head coach Bill Belichick before an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots in Denver, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011.

Robert Kraft said he expected an apology from the league once the Patriots are found to be not guilty of breaking any rules.

in Sports

Playoff not interested in moving semis off New Year’s Eve

This Monday, July 14, 2014 photo shows the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy in Irving, Texas. A rising gold football-shaped trophy will be the prize for the national champion in the new College Football Playoff.

The College Football Playoff says there is no interest in ESPN's suggestion to move next season's semifinals from New Year's Eve to Saturday, Jan. 2.

in Sports

Snow forces NBA to postpone Knicks, Nets games

snow-blower

The NBA has postponed home games for both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets because of a snowstorm expected to batter the area.

in Music

Royalties won’t ‘Stay’ with Sam Smith

11-overlay5

Tom Petty "Won't Back Down" over the similarities between his 1989 hit and the Grammy-nominated "Stay With Me."

Bellingham Traffic