Here we go again. The OIG issued a report in October, claiming that the Medicare fee schedule amounts for power wheelchairs were 45% higher than the median Internet prices available to consumers in the first quarter of 2007.

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Are these guys stubborn, stupid or just trying to be irritating? Just about anyone with half a brain knows that Internet pricing is much less expensive because Web companies have next to no overhead and many—certainly not all—provide little or no service after the sale.

The industry has made this abundantly clear to government officials numerous times in the past, when some bean counter, for example, tried to use the same rationale as support for a reimbursement cut. What makes this even more galling is that everyone knows buying over the Internet is often a trade off—lower cost for less service. That’s fine if you’re buying a blender, but would any intelligent person suggest that trade off for a power wheelchair or some other product that’s critical to a person’s well being?

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No. Yet, here we have the OIG doing exactly that, proving once again that they just don’t get it. They don’t understand the needs of beneficiaries or the complexities of power mobility devices. To come out with a report like this after having examined the HME industry for years from every imaginable angle is really quite pathetic.