Senator calls for an end to misleading wheelchair and scooter advertisements

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The aggressive marketing of power wheelchairs and scooters to seniors drives up Medicare costs and puts providers in a tough spot, says Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). On Thursday, he issued a statement urging regulators to crack down on misleading advertisements for power mobility devices.

He said the ads lead seniors to believe the devices are medically necessary or reimbursable by Medicare — which they often are not. Power mobility devices include motorized scooters and wheelchairs. Seniors see the ads and often pressure providers into prescribing them, Blumenthal noted.

“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 in a statement. He added that he would be sending letters to the Food and Drug Administration as well as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

An investigation last year by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General found that 80% of power mobility device-related claims did not meet Medicare criteria and should not have been paid. The result was nearly a half billion dollars in improper payments, government officials have said.

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