|The Medicare Golden Goose|
Lately, you may have seen non-stop ads from a company called SafeLink which is giving away free phones and minutes to those on food stamps and Medicaid. The free phones and minutes are funded by The Universal Administrative Company (USAC) which takes money we pay to phone companies in our bills and they fund the free phones with it (and other programs). When you peel back the layers you discover that USAC is the administrator and the fund manager referred to as USF of Universal Service Fund. Digging even deeper, you find this leads back to Washington and the FCC which actually has oversight for USAC. SafeLink is a company taking advantage of this government program that we are all paying for and creating the expectation for a free cell phone and minutes.
Dr. Jerome Epplin of Litchfield, Ill., who testified before the Senate, estimates that only about one out of every 10 patients who ask him for a scooter actually needs one. But he said that sales representatives from some scooter companies put pressure on him by accompanying patients to his office. The effect is coercive, he says.
- The Scooter Store. The Federal Government is forcing these
companies like The Scooter Store to compete in a sealed bid process rather than just giving them $X
for each scooter delivered. One of our
employees father who was 99 1/2 got a free $7,000 scooter. He passed away shortly thereafter and there
was no expectation that the chair be returned for reuse by someone else in
need. Most are simply 'delivered', not sold, because the Federal government is
paying the majority -- so who wouldn't want one for free? The Federal Government raided The Scooter
Store in February, but no one is talking.
They don't usually raid a facility unless they suspect fraud. It is likely that all the employees will lose
their jobs and The Scooter Store will be no more. Sun Capital Partners, which is a major investor in The Scooter Store has made no statement nor do they even mention it on their website. They also are hiding under their desks.
In 2005 the U.S. Justice Department sued The Scooter Store, alleging that its advertising enticed seniors to obtain power scooters paid for by Medicare, and then sold patients more expensive scooters that they did not want or need. The Scooter Store settled that case in 2007 for $4 million. In 2011, government auditors estimated that The Scooter Store received between $47 million and $88 million in improper payments for scooters.
- Hoveround hasn't gotten the message. The headline on their website still says "Get a Hoveround' for little to no cost. They are hiding under their desks and simply not returning any calls from the media. This is one of the key issues -- advertising which has created false expectations that everyone should have a free chair, free supplies, now a free mobile phone (along with free minutes). Society pays for this and there is little accountability.
- Liberty Medical - "If your diabetic and on Medicare", your supplies may be covered said Wilford Brimley. Not anymore. Liberty (formerly owned by Medco Health Solutions) got out of the business and laid off 450 people recently. According to sources, new government documentation forced them to sell. Another company, Arriva is positioning themselves to be a large player in the market. They purchased Direct Diabetic Source and AmMed Direct in 2012. We'll see.
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