Last month, the FBI, Texas State troopers, and the Inspector General raided The SCOOTER Store’s corporate offices for suspected Medicare fraud. According to the government, the largest name in mobility scooters falsely took money from Medicare by encouraging false prescriptions and overcharging the government.
In January, CBS This Morning ran a cutting exposé on the company, detailing how it “railroads” doctors into prescribing mobility aids for their patients, most of whom are on Medicare. By doing so they can bill the government for the unnecessary medical device, while the patient gets a cool new electric mobility scooter or power wheelchair without paying a dime for it.
The SCOOTER Store is charged with using tax dollars to give $3,000 power chairs and mobility scooters to Medicare beneficiaries for free or at little out-of-pocket cost. In 2012 alone, as many as 170,000 people took advantage of the “free scooter deal” at a cost of over $700 million to taxpayers.
Brian Setzer, a former employee, explained to CBS News how The SCOOTER Store pressures doctors into writing false prescriptions for power chairs for patients that don’t need it. The SCOOTER Store’s policy is to “Bulldoze and get them to get the paperwork done,” Setzer said.
Other employees told authorities that the store “ranked doctors” based on who they could count on to prescribe chairs. If a doctor would not prescribe, employees harassed the doctor until they gave in.
The scooter scam is not new, and the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services has known about it since 2011.
A total of 80 percent of claims for power wheelchairs did not meet Medicare coverage requirements and should not have been paid by Medicare.
Medicare and its beneficiaries paid four times the average amount paid by suppliers for standard power wheelchairs.
The Inspector General claims that Medicare overpaid The SCOOTER Store $108 million in the four year period from 2009 through 2012.
Why did it take Medicare and the authorities two years to kick down The SCOOTER Store’s front door after the Inspector General’s report?