Senator pushes crackdown on PMDs

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and healthcare advocates recently called for a crackdown on the “aggressive and misleading” marketing tactics of the power mobility device (PMD) industry, according to a press release posted to the senator’s website. On Oct. 18, at The Mary Wade Home in New Haven, Conn., Blumenthal detailed how the marketing of PMDs to senior citizens can drive up costs for consumers in the Medicare program. Blumenthal also called for tighter regulations on suppliers, who he says put pressure on doctors to prescribe their products. “The federal government must redouble its efforts to crack down on the pervasive Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse associated with expensive power mobility devices, but we need to do more to address the root cause of this problem,” Blumenthal said. “Aggressive advertisements directed as seniors, which intentionally misrepresent the devices’ risks versus benefits and the Medicare coverage criteria, need to be stopped. These misleading ads elevate seniors’ expectations about the use of power wheelchairs and scooters and convince them that they need such devices even though doctors say a different course of treatment may be more medically appropriate.” PMDs account for about $606 million in annual Medicare spending. But an investigation last year by the Office of the Inspector General found that 80% of claims for PMDs did not meet Medicare criteria and should not have been paid, resulting in a loss of $492 million dollars.