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You’ve seen the countless commercials with smiling elderly men and women tooling around in their new scooters, enjoying their newly discovered mobility.
The Scooter Store, one of the largest companies marketing the four-wheelers, however, was not in a smiling mood Wednesday after federal agents raided its Texas headquarters.
The 9 a.m. raid by more than 150 federal and state law officials in New Braunfels, just northeast of San Antonio, was part of an ongoing investigation into Medicare fraud, according to local media covering the event. Staffers were told to leave their work spaces untouched and then to leave the premises.
The company made no immediate comments about the raid, during which there were no arrests.
The raid involved the FBI, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Texas Attorney General’s Office, local newspaper and TV stations reported.
The San Antonio Express-News website reported concerns have been raised that the company’s devices are being prescribed for people who don’t need them. The Scooter Store has been given five years to repay $19.5 million in overpayments under a negotiated settlement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers the programs. The actual overpayments, however, has been estimated at $87.7 million by two U.S. senators.
The repayments are part of an agreement with the Office of the Inspector General, which had threatened to remove the company as a federal vendor if it didn’t repay the money, the newspaper said. The reason for Tuesday’s raid was not disclosed.
The Scooter Store’s website says the company has “helped more people (over 700,000) with limited mobility than any other company in the nation.” In addition to scooters, the company sells power wheelchairs, lifts, ramps, and accessories.