Blumenthal demands crackdown on 'misleading' scooter chair ads

Blumenthal also called for an end to the pressure that PMD suppliers put on doctors to prescribe their products and the difficulties patients face in receiving refunds when they don’t receive reimbursement from Medicare.

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“These misleading ads elevate seniors’ expectations about the use of power wheelchairs and scooters and convince them that they need such devices even though doctors say a different course of treatment may be more medically appropriate,” Blumenthal said.

He pointed out that most of the ads that promise “improved mobility” portray improper use of PMDs outside the home and fail to include any mention of the health and safety risks that could come with using these devices.

Blumenthal said he would be sending letters to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asking both to investigate oversight of the PMD industry’s advertising practices and the fraud recovery efforts under way.

“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. “Cracking down on motorized wheelchair fraud and abuse is essential to patients and taxpayers.”

In the press release, Blumenthal said PMDs account for approximately $606 million in annual Medicare spending, and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) found last year that 80 percent of claims for PMDs did not meet Medicare criteria and should not have been paid, resulting in a loss of $492 million dollars.

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