Grassley's at it again


In a press release posted to today, Sen. Chuck  Grassley, R-Iowa, uses power wheelchair fraud as an example of why Medicare's a "money pit."

Aging Americans rely on Medicare to help pay for quality health care services and equipment that enhance their quality of life well beyond retirement. Unfortunately, a few rotten bananas in the durable medical equipment industry are giving a black-eye to those who conscientiously provide oxygen equipment, diabetic kits and wheelchairs to the disabled and retirees. Just consider recent examples of Medicare fraud by unscrupulous suppliers of motorized wheelchairs. An internal audit recently revealed that Medicare and its beneficiaries paid nearly four times the average paid by suppliers for standard power wheelchairs in the first half of 2007. It’s ridiculous that the government pays more for wheelchairs than any consumer who does basic comparison shopping on-line. Apparently sticker shock doesn’t seem to apply to Uncle Sam."

The OIG report rears its ugly head again. But here Grassley takes the debate in another direction, and if I were the industry, I'd be worried.

When the OIG report first came out, the industry pointed out that the difference between acquisition costs and what Medicare pays isn't all profit. Providers use that money to cover services and general business expenses, leaving them with a single-digit profit margin.

Now Grassley seems to be connecting the difference between acquisitions costs and what Medicare pays with fraud.


Liz Beaulieu