Data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicates that Medicare has spent more than $240 million of taxpayer money on penis pumps for elderly men over the past decade.
According to Heartlander, between 2001 and 2010 the amount of taxpayer money used by Medicaid to provide “Male Vacuum Erection Systems” to elderly men quadrupled. In 2001 taxpayers footed the bill for about $11 million toward the purchase of the devices, the number jumped to $47 million in 2010.
Because of the sharp increase in the amount Medicare spends on the devices, many people have raised concerns about fraud. In September, an Illinois man was found guilty of collecting more than $2 million from Medicare in a fraudulent operation that involved repackaging $26 items he bought from adult websites and selling them to seniors as medical devices. He charged Medicare $284 each for the devices.
Because of questions of whether the technology even serves a medical need and the opportunity for fraud, John Nothdurft, director of government relations for The Heartland Institute, questions whether it is prudent for Medicare to pay for the devices.
“At a time when the federal government borrows 43 cents of every dollar it spends, do we really need to be spending money on this? I doubt you need a ‘Super Committee’ to realize that this is the epitome of wasteful spending,” he said.
According to a 2011 report, Medicare spending is expected to grow from 3.6 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 to roughly 10.7 percent of GDP by 2085.