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Report: Government spent millions on penis pumps, paid double retail price

Taxpayers paid nearly $175 million for vacuum erection systems (VES), commonly known as “penis pumps,” from 2006 to 2011, according to an inspector general report released on Monday.

The federal government paid more than double the retail price for VES, the Department of Health and Human Services IG found. Medicare prices for the systems, the report said, “remain grossly excessive compared with the amounts that non-Medicare payers pay.”

Medicare paid 473,620 VES claims during calendar years 2006 through 2011, according to the IG report.

Health care policy experts said the revelations in the IG report are a troubling indication of what they describe as wasteful spending in federal health programs.

“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.

“This is a perfect example of what happens when government becomes the be all and end all of human existence – a system where everyone has a right to a taxpayer-funded penis pump.”

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