- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Congress is putting the final kibosh on the penis pump, with the House slated to begin debating a bill Wednesday that would stop Medicare from paying for the erectile dysfunction treatment, saving an average of $44 million a year.

All told, the government stands to save nearly $450 million over the next decade by halting payments for “vacuum pump systems,” or penis pumps, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis released Tuesday.

House Republicans, who wrote the bill, said that as long as Medicare is banned from paying for erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, the program shouldn’t be paying for pumps, either.

And besides, Medicare had been “grossly” overpaying for the pumps, averaging more than $450 a pump, according to the agency’s inspector general — or more than twice what other federal agencies paid. Buying from a company online would have produced even bigger savings, with the average price of less than $165 per system, investigators said in their report from last year.

Investigators said Medicare paid for nearly 475,000 vacuum pump systems between 2006 and 2011.

The $44 million a year in savings would be combined with other cost-cutting and revenue hikes to pay for a new tax break Congress wants to offer disabled Americans.

Known as the ABLE Act, the bill would allow disabled Americans to store money in tax-free accounts and use the cash to pay for special expenses such as schooling. The money also wouldn’t be counted when the government was looking to see if someone was poor enough to qualify for federal benefits — meaning the disabled would have an easier time getting welfare and other assistance.

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