By: Jeremy Alford
A Terrebonne lawmaker contends prosthetic products are being sold by unsavory characters across Louisiana, sometimes from the back of a truck, which is why he wants the state to buy only from accredited facilities. Hundreds of companies and health-care providers sell prosthetics or offer orthotic services in Louisiana, and some are acting fraudulently, says Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma. Four dozen unaccredited Florida medical equipment suppliers were busted several years ago for allegedly billing Medicare for 21,000 artificial limbs that were neither medically necessary nor provided to Medicare beneficiaries. The cost to taxpayers was estimated at about $122 million. Now its happening in Louisiana, Baldone says, often at the hands of out-of-state, fly-by-night companies. He says his House Bill 799 would end the abuse by imposing $2,500 penalties and forcing unaccredited companies to reimburse the state for illicit sales. The House passed Baldones measure unanimously. Health-care issues involving prosthetics have become a hot issue this year. The House recently passed House Bill 318 by Rep. Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, calling for insurance companies to cover the costs of purchasing and servicing artificial limbs. Kleckleys measure sets a maximum cost of $50,000 per limb. It is opposed by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which contends the measure is a government mandate for health insurance companies.