Medical scooters take seniors for a ride

In the past, seniors were often the target of advertising by retailers like The Scooter Store that guaranteed that their motorized scooters were absolutely free to the customer. Retailers would use such claims to persuade seniors to purchase scooters that were more powerful than necessary or not needed at all. Sometimes the customers would actually receive a cheaper model scooter than the one purchased and sometimes they would go home with a re-built or used scooter, when they had ordered a new one. In any event, the retailer would bill Medicare and Medicaid and pocket the profits.

The Scooter Store stopped all that, though, after it settled a False Claims Act suit with the federal government two years ago. The Justice Department alleged that the company would advertise that seniors could take home power scooters that were paid for by Medicare and other insurers, but that once customers were in the store, they were sold on more expensive power wheelchairs that they didn’t need. Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers paid the tab for the scooters and for unnecessary accessories. As part of the settlement, The Scooter Store agreed to operate under a corporate integrity agreement for three years.

Now, The Scooter Store shuns any promise of free scooters. Instead, its ads plainly read: “You may even get your power chair or scooter ABSOLUTELY FREE.” The Scooter Store believes that its new advertising, with the insertion of the word “may,” complies with the terms of the corporate integrity agreement.

For the full story, go to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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