On Medicare And A Man’s Sex Life

penis-pump-firma-seal2What with the rest of federal government being overly inflated, it’s only natural that the same apply to their expenditures of penis pumps.

According to Free Beacon, taxpayers, under the auspices of Medicare, shelled out 175 million big ones (uh, dollars) between 2006 and 2011 for vacuum erection systems (VES), colloquially known as “penis pumps,” otherwise known as the subject of 95% of spam messages lining your junk e-mail folder every morning.

Although…perhaps those spam messages aren’t quite the nuisance they’re commonly portrayed as: at least they’re advertised (I think!) at market prices. According to the Inspector General of Health and Human Services, Medicare paid double the retail price on 473,620 VES claims over the aforementioned period. Moral: don’t blithely jump to the “delete” button next time, Secretary Sebelius.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose. If government has proven itself adept at anything, it’s their proclivity for doing things twice as bad as it could have been. Such is the tendency of an overgrown apparatus bound and determined to branch it’s way into every corner of life.

“The fact that taxpayers have spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the past decade on penis pumps via Medicare is obscene and insulting – even more so when you consider that this is an arena of Medicare expenditures rife with fraud and where the government doesn’t even bother to assess medical necessity,” said Ben Domenech, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute.

“Medical necessity”? How gauche! For our federal government, one who loves to bandy about a “right” to this, or a “right” to that, a “medical necessity” as it relates to an actual medical condition becomes an inborn medical right to an erection. We seem to have rights materializing out of the ether yearly anyway, why not another? Penis pumps for all! Hands off my genitourinary justice!

After Congress instructed the Government Accountability Office (who lately seems derelict of duty: $17.3 trillion debt, anyone?) to look into the matter, they eventually agreed with a previous recommendation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to change the payment schedules for the devices. However, after HHS issued regulations granting CMS authority to do just that, they didn’t. A golden moment for the GAO to redeem themselves by asking “Uh, guys? What’s the hold up?

By actually bothering to use such authority to reform payments to those in line with what internet consumers pay, CMS could save taxpayers millions. But one can’t ask a government agency initially bothered to overpay for a non-essential service to be bothered to rein it in. Additionally, if the government stimulus concerns sex, especially making it easier (or just possible) to have, don’t count on at least half the population to be bothered for reform either.

Bottom line, they weren’t apparently content with aiding men in getting a rise out of a flat-lined sex life; they made sure to live up to expectations as they raked taxpayers over the coals twice in the process.

Can we get a cigarette afterwards, at least?



About Michael Haugen

Michael Haugen is a full-spectrum conservative and recent graduate from Eastern Washington University (BS Biology). His main interests in politics and public policy center around health care, education and tax reform. He'll be returning to EWU in 2014 to complete a Master's degree in Public Administration. Follow him on Twitter: @HaugenTRA

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