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Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:19 AM

Heavy price: Medicare overpaying for back braces

Source: AP-Excite

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR

WASHINGTON (AP) - You can find it on the Internet for $250 or less. But if Medicare is paying, a standard-issue brace for back patients costs more than $900.

In a report expected Wednesday, federal investigators say Medicare paid an average of $919 for back braces that cost suppliers $191 apiece, providing a window on how wasteful spending drives up health care costs.

"The program and its beneficiaries could have paid millions of dollars less if the Medicare reimbursement amount ... more closely resembled the cost to suppliers," says the report from the inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department. The Associated Press obtained a copy.

In a written response, Medicare Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the findings provide valuable insight into the inner workings of her program. Medicare will consider including back braces in a competitive bidding plan for medical equipment, she said. The bidding experiment, expanding across the country, already has been shown to save taxpayers money.

FULL story at link.



Read more: http://apnews.excite.com/article/20121219/DA38NEG80.html

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Reply Heavy price: Medicare overpaying for back braces (Original post)
Omaha Steve Dec 2012 OP
MJJP21 Dec 2012 #1
Sivafae Dec 2012 #2

Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 01:10 PM

1. Don' t worry

Don't worry about back braces. Probably the biggest fiasco is the electric power chair market. As an ex owner of a durable equipment co I can tell you first hand that I have seen power chairs sell for over $23,000 dollars with some extras. I only sold scooters of which top of the line went for $3500.00 with extras. Getting back to the $23,000 I was able to purchase a base model online retail for around $4000.00. If medicare paid for this the patient is entitled to batteries yearly (around $200.00) and repairs if not covered by warranty. The patient is entitled to a new chair whether needed or not every five years unless the rules have changed .

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Response to MJJP21 (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:49 PM

2. Dude, 23,000 is cheap. My friend's was $35,000ish.

But what I understand from her also is that electric chairs are not paid for by Medi-care unless it is medically needed.

Each chair is made specifically for each person depending on body size, disability and needs. My friends chair not only goes forward and reverse, it also goes back (more accurately tips back like a laz-y-boy--only it keeps the chair shape instead of turning into a lounger) so that she can "stand up" in her chair every so often and re-seat herself. She has CP and her body has a tendency to straighten out taking her out of a sitting position. Granted that is a cool feature, but to use it is a pain because it is slow and and not really fitted in a way for her to use without help from an attendant (she only has the use of her left hand--and that is limited at best).

I have seen really cool things with electric chairs where the legs move and the arms move. Also, one chair I have seen is controlled by breath, and another is controlled by the rider's chin. Some really cool technology.

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