Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:03 PM
TexasTowelie (31,328 posts)
Medicare overpaid Scooter Store by millions
The Scooter Store received as much as $87.7 million in Medicare overpayments from 2009 to 2011, an independent auditor found, but the New Braunfels company only has to repay $19.5 million.
Two U.S. senators last month sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, asking why it agreed to accept an amount “significantly less” than what it overpaid the seller of power wheelchairs and scooters.
CMS hasn't yet answered the letter and it didn't specifically address the question in an email to the Express-News.
The Scooter Store disputed the auditor's findings, according to the senators' letter. The company didn't directly address questions regarding the repayment agreement, though it said in an email the $19.5 million is less than 4 percent of what it received from CMS from May 2009 to May 2011.
More at http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/article/Medicare-overpaid-Scooter-Store-by-millions-4180960.php .
The solution: Medicare will not purchase any more of their products until all overpayments are refunded.
5 replies, 1675 views
Medicare overpaid Scooter Store by millions (Original post)
Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:09 PM
upaloopa (11,417 posts)
1. I see so many people riding around on those things and
wonder if they are really needed or if it is the best thing for those on them. It seems to me that Medicare wasn't intended to buy scooters for people. Is someone going without care because money is being spent on unneeded scooters? Just asking.
Response to Smilo (Reply #2)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:47 PM
haele (6,973 posts)
4. A significantly more amount of people do.
Severe arthritis, back and hip degeneration, diseases like Parkinsons, CF or MS - and a lot of people who work hard physical labor type jobs who would normally have died (prior to the 1970's) or required full time care soon after an early retirement at 55 or 60 are living a lot longer and still want to live somewhat of a life as they are still mentally active. In the worst cases, those scooters are sometimes the difference between independently getting around one's own home or going into a nursing home.
Admittedly, there are a lot of people who get a scooter without actually reaching the physical point they need one to get around, but honestly, for every "fat, lazy person" riding one, there's another person who hasn't been able to walk ten steps without excruciating pain for the past ten years or so, much less exercise to keep weight (and depression) down.
What pisses me off is that a place like this is ripping off the government; by being caught taking advantage of programs for the elderly and poor disabled, they've screwed it for the people who actually need both their product and those programs. Good mobility Scooters are as expensive as a good motorcycle or small used car; many disabled can't afford them without significant help from Medicaid or other insurance programs and would otherwise have nothing to look forward to than being couch- and bed-bound for the rest of their lives.
I'll talk about this because soon, we're going to have to look at getting one in our household for a member of the family who hasn't even hit 50 yet, but his body is giving out. I'm not capable of pushing him about in a wheelchair for long and the kids have their own lives and don't have time to shuttle him around and hang out while he tries to have a life of his own. A scooter (and scooter ramp attchment on the family vehicle) allows him to interact with the outside world.
Response to haele (Reply #4)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 03:02 PM
shraby (17,549 posts)
5. I agree with you. Many older people who live in assisted living, or independently in apartments
for the aged, can use these to go to the library, grocery store, just plain shopping and visiting friends and relatives who live near. Many of the apartments are close enough to the downtown area that they are very very useful for those who can't drive or walk very far.
They are a needed commodity for the old. Just because a company is screwing the government doesn't mean these aren't needed.
Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:31 PM
riverwalker (7,730 posts)
3. Romney pal, Leder owns big stake in The Scooter Store
Take Leder, Romney’s Boca Raton host, whose Sun Capital firm bought a stake in the Scooter Store last year. The company, known for its ubiquitous television ads promising seemingly free motorized wheelchairs for Medicare beneficiaries, has struggled as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that governs the programs, implements rules to curb rampant billing fraud. As a CMS report noted last year, 80 percent of the claims for scooters and power wheelchairs did not meet Medicare requirements, meaning that $492 million a year is being improperly spent.
In 2007, the Scooter Store gave up $13 million in Medicare payments and paid $4 million to settle with the Justice Department over allegations that it had overbilled for its electric wheelchairs. The company, which has been bleeding money over the years as regulators moved to curb waste, still faces challenges that could make or break its business model—challenges that could be mitigated by pressure from the executive branch.
A Romney administration, for example, would have a role in the fate of a recently launched pilot program ensuring that patients see a doctor face to face to determine if a Medicare scooter is medically necessary—a program that has reportedly already reduced billings to the Scooter Store. Another challenge for the company is Section 3136 of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. If Romney wins and repeals significant portions of the ACA, would he retain this provision, which compels Medicare to have a competitive bidding process for motorized wheelchairs?
Leder, who has donated nearly $300,000 to Romney and other Republicans in this campaign and another $225,000 to a pro-Romney Super PAC, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Disclosures, however, suggest that pressuring the government is the only way his investment in the Scooter Store can turn a profit.
Since Leder’s firm invested in the Scooter Store, the company has spent nearly $900,000 on lobbyists to push back on these two latest challenges to its motorized-scooter empire. Lobbyists not only try to influence legislation; they are also paid to gather information. Tips about government regulatory decisions can be as good as gold to investors who can act before the information is public knowledge. But what if the company had the ultimate lobbyists: the president’s oldest son, brother and personal fundraiser?