News

Penis pumps cost federal government $172M

Penis pumps cost federal government $172M

GOVERNMENT WASTE?: A study shows Medicare spent millions of dollars on treatments for erectile dysfunction, and often paid inflated prices. Photo: clipart.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Penis pumps cost the U.S. government’s Medicare program $172 million between 2006 and 2011, about twice as much as the consumer would have paid at the retail level, according to a government watchdog’s report released on Monday.

The report by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services said Medicare, the government health insurance system for seniors, paid nearly 474,000 claims for vacuum erection systems, or VES, totaling about $172.4 million from 2006 to 2011. Yearly claims for the devices nearly doubled from $20.6 million in 2006 to $38.6 million in 2011.

According to the Mayo Clinic, penis pumps are one of a few treatment options for erectile dysfunction.

Government waste is a major issue in budget talks in the U.S. capital as lawmakers try to reach agreement on a $1 trillion spending bill.

“Medicare payment amounts for VES remain grossly excessive compared with the amounts that non-Medicare payers pay,” said the report, dated December 2013. “Medicare currently pays suppliers more than twice as much for VES as the Department of Veterans Affairs and consumers over the Internet pay for these types of devices.”

If Medicare had adjusted its payments to approximately the price non-Medicare payers pay, the U.S. government would have saved an average of about $14.4 million for each of the six years, the report said.

“Considering the strain retiring baby boomers will soon be placing on Medicare’s budget, shouldn’t we be focusing this entitlement program on real, life-saving treatment and equipment to serve the health needs of seniors – instead of subsidizing penis pump purchases?” Ben Domenici of the Heartland Institute think tank said in an email statement.

“And to those seniors who really do want one,” added Domenech, “just buy it yourself – you don’t need to send the bill to your fellow Americans.”

(Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney)

What's Hot on STAR

Ken, Colleen, & Kurt’s I-Cubs to the Rescue

icubs-rescue-16-FI

Your kid’s Little League team could get some professional help from an Iowa Cubs player.

Winefest 2016

Winefest_DL

Winefest is an 8 day festival with educational sessions, pairing dinners, and large tasting events.

CelebrAsian

celebrasian

Check out the 14th Annual Asian Heritage Festival this Friday and Saturday!

STAR 102.5’s Grand Gas Giveaway

grandgasgiveaway-FI

Crack the code and win $1,000 in gas

What’s On Tap

whatsontap-FI

Find out where the cool places are to be this week. Presented by Bud Light.

Hire Me Iowa

HireMeIowa_620x400_final

Looking for a job around the Des Moines area? Check out our current job listings here.

Recent Headlines

4 hours ago in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: May 27

sinatra

A look at the Hollywood headlines that went down in history.

18 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ is a totally pointless, boring sequel

17-overlay-3

Not even Johnny Depp - reliable as ever inside a fright wig and exaggerated make up - can save this sequel.