Scooter Store’s headquarters raided in federal probe

(The Scooter Store)

(The Scooter Store)

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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.

28 comments Add your comment

John Wilkinson

February 20th, 2013
6:52 pm

It’s about time someone actually took a serious look at this company. It makes it almost impossible to make an honest living competing against someone that promises your prospective customers a guaranteed power wheel chair before they are qualified. They have basically made our entire industry look like a bunch of crooks. Unfortunately, This is too little too late! Now wait till someone needs a power chair.

thetruthhurts

February 20th, 2013
8:27 pm

Welcome to the opening shots of ObamaCare, where everyone now gets mobility devices called “wheel chairs” and not scooters. Where old women with broken hips get denigned hip replacements and are left to rot in a bed for the rest of their lives.

Like prescription drugs, only a physician can order a mobility chair. The scooter store fills that prescription. Period end. This is like the Fed’s raiding a drug store because they filled to many legitiment prescriptions of hydrocodine.

The OIG, Medicare and FBI are gunning for ALL healthcare providers. They are looking for ANY WAY to limit payments to all providers, which in turn is a limit care to the people who are under Medicare’s control.

It only gets worse from here. Look for limiting the care of American’s while the Industrial Military/Security Complex continues to get more money year after year.

thetruthhurts

February 20th, 2013
8:30 pm

John Wilkinson

You are wrong. They pre-qualify the patients. If Medicare denigns the claim the Scooter Store eats it. Do’nt you watch their commercials?

D Phillips

February 20th, 2013
8:43 pm

Why does the Scooter store have to pay a quarter of over payments back to Medicare, when they received 87 MILLION in payment. It seems that other organizations, do not get same priviledge and required to pay 100% of over payments. Seems to be BIAS!!! Sincerely, …..

Amy Walker

February 20th, 2013
8:50 pm

Thetruthhurts – no it’s not Obama’s fault. This was a long time in coming. It’s been long known in the industry that the Scooter Store salespeople are more interested in sales than the patient’s best medical interest.

Clutch Cargo

February 20th, 2013
8:53 pm

Look on craigslist. People that don’t need them get these things and sell them for pennies on the dollar.We all eat the cost. Same thing with diabetic supplies and other medicare/medicaid supplies.People without insurance buy this stuff from these crooks (they were even so brazen as to put up flyers in my neighborhood offering to buy this stuff) and we all pay for it.

Raymond

February 20th, 2013
9:44 pm

Pre-qualification for power mobility starts and ends with the physician. The Scooter Store goes to great lengths to ensure that they are following insurance guidelines to qualify someone for a power chair based on information/documentation submitted by a treating physician. The Scooter Store can NOT write a prescription for anything. And they do not. To try and demonize a provider for helping those that need mobility beyond a wheel chail or walker is irresponsible. The benefit for a power chair is clear in what is required for reimbursement. The Scooter Store has done no wrong and should be celebrated for the good they have done over the past 25 years. Without the providers, they’re is no mobility for the weak, disabled, and shut in. This is about utilization and reduction, not a criminal act.

Rich

February 20th, 2013
10:00 pm

Good to see the positive comments from Scooter Store execs or employees. This has a known scam for years. We all pay the price for these overages. I remember when the Scooter Store headquarters used to be occupied by an outdoor furniture store that went out of business. They are only financed through public funds.

Disabled Vet

February 20th, 2013
10:31 pm

The Scooter Store, like all other Mobility Companies, is in business to profit. Hence the word “Business.” Many people get fed a load from their blessed Liberal Media and assume they are now the Judge and Jury all together. If people actually studied the “Facts” they would find that The Scooter Store is the Leader in the Mobility Industry because they Do prequalify their customers. This id done no keep from Burning up Doctors time and keep from submitting Fraud claims. Rich is right. We do pay for Medicare paid overages. We also pay for relief to third world countries, Medicaid recipients, Federal, State and Municiple Detention Centers, Our Government Officials inflated pay scale and eveything else the Lazy, sick and criminal can get away with. The Scooter Store is not Financed by Public Funds. It is a true, profit based business. A large amount of their sales are “Direct Sales” based. These funds are provided by people who want mobility, but either do not qualify or just want to buy and skip the Insurance system. As for Clutch Cargo’s comment. People die. Some people just need the money and some fool The Sccoter Store as well as their Doctor.
Miss Amy Walker sounds like she knows someone who worked there or worked there herself. I’ve never heard of a sales person working out of kindness. Last time all looked, we all work for money that feeds our families. Maybe the FBI can raid the Senate and oval office next.

Bernie

February 20th, 2013
10:37 pm

Its about time for some serious questions to be asked and answered about their services. Law enforcement , would also be wise to review and verify the medical necessity of all physician prescribed scooters.

This review should include ALL Physicians, who have the highest utilization numbers and the most frequent prescribed request authorizations over the past (10) ten years. Most medical fraud does not occurr in a vacuum. Where there is smoke, you will typically find fire as well.

Nancy

February 20th, 2013
10:47 pm

Scooter people are the worst ever!!!! They provide you a chair yes, but no service at all! My 91 years old mother-in-law has a chair she can’t use. They would not even give her the time of day. Tried to call them for over a month. Left over 100 messages asking for help, they would not talk to me or give us any help. They only care about the sale and nothing else. I hope they get what they deserve!!!!

TSS

February 20th, 2013
10:58 pm

This has nothing to to with ObamaCare. The Feds/Agents are investigating The Scooter Store because of The Scooter Store’s fraudulent business practices. I worked for this company for years and left of my own volition. I had repeated meetings with my manager, his manager. . . all the way up to the Executive Vice President level discussing how unethical the practices were which we were expected to perform in Physician’s offices. We were trained to put sales before all else, to meet quotas and I repeatedly saw pressures put on Doctor’s offices to complete paperwork for patients who the Scooter Store knew didn’t qualify for the Power Wheelchairs. Physicians COULD NOT STAND working with us. It became embarrassing to be a representative of this company.
Did the Scooter Store help folks who truly needed power wheelchairs? Certainly–and many of them. Did the Scooter Store knowingly pressure both patients to get the chairs and offices to prescribe power wheelchairs for patients who didn’t need them? Absolutely. I witnessed it.
The Feds are doing what they should be doing: Investigating a company behaving unethically and cheating tax-payers out of millions of dollars for their own profits.

colos5

February 21st, 2013
12:11 am

if you live in peachtree city, can you get a golf cart instead of a scooter to get around and get it paid by medicaid? they have a lot more driving to do.

stop competitive bidding

February 21st, 2013
7:47 am

I agree with the raid!! It is about time!! Because of companies for profit, it is the patients that suffer in the long run! There is a need to distinguish between medical need and just wanting.. It is well known fact that Scooter Store representatives would influence and assist physicians in qualifying patients for power wheelchairs & scooters. Most of the time patients could not even use these chairs in their own homes, due to doorways not wide enough to fit power chairs. The only down fall of this is that companies that supply equipment for qualified, medically necessary, and follow all Insurance guidelines and rules, are being punished for equipment suppliers like the”Scooter Store”. This is not Obama’s fault, because this type of fraud has been going on long before he was elected president. Crack downs should of happened a long time ago!!

Whirled Peas

February 21st, 2013
8:04 am

Why go after these guys when Obama money man and Democratic Party big shot Jon Corzine is walking around free? Corzine stole much more than these guys did. Problem is he was so stupid that he lost it all in the market.

Robert Weaver

February 21st, 2013
9:25 am

I’ll bet the perscribing physican is next. Where else would you find the real culprit.

Karma

February 21st, 2013
10:00 am

Well, well, well, I used to work at TSS years ago. Frankly, I’m not really surprised by the raid. I always thought there was something fishy about it. Doug Harrison always seemed a little bit creepy to me. That old addage of “if it seems too good to be true”… I am sorry for employees that may lose their jobs and the community/customers that may suffer.

Jennifer

February 21st, 2013
10:15 am

I was employed with The Scooter Store from 2008-2012 and in my opinion The Scooter Store is guilty as sin of committing Medicare/Medicaid fraud every day. We were directed to send customer’s to their doctor even if we could clearly tell they did not meet Medicare guidelines for PMD. Then we were forced to hound doctor’s offices to insure they prescribed the $4000 power wheelchair instead of a $1200 scooter that would have been sufficient. Commission & sales metrics were set-up to penalize the sales force for selling scooters instead of power wheelchairs and I even had several managers out right tell me that we “do not sell scooters”. As a sales person, if you tried to do the right thing, your numbers would be low & you would be at serious risk to be fired. I saw many good people (5-10yr veterans) run out of that place & it is scary to have to worry about keeping your job every day. I am saddened for my friends & co-workers that are in the position to lose their lively hood but I am very happy to see that something is finally being done about The Scooter Store’s fraudulent practices. I will definitely be watching this thing unfold.

Deb A

February 21st, 2013
1:10 pm

Before you spout off that the Scooter is ever so innocent, please look at this:
http://www.cbs.com/shows/cbs_this_morning/video/2337342231/agents-raid-the-scooter-store-headquarters/

Bubba Dude

February 21st, 2013
4:32 pm

I got me a scooter and a free cell phone. Helps me get to the store for my free groceries.

Mr. Thomas Anthony Jones, SR

February 21st, 2013
6:54 pm

The government is out of control in this country. We do not need the government Disabled people anything at all. Until we cut these agents legs off they need to stay away from the Scooter Syore. We all strongly support the scooter store.

Mr. Thomas Anthony Jones, SR

February 21st, 2013
7:07 pm

The Scooter Chair is an outstanding tool for the Diabled People in this country. Quit messing with the Scooter Chair.

Pitbull

February 21st, 2013
8:44 pm

Those scooters make it easier to scoot to the post office to pick up the disability check.

GibbinRTakin

February 22nd, 2013
6:31 am

The Scooter Store pushes beyond reasonable limits. It is stuff like this that keeps legitimate needs from being filled and wastes healthcare dollars. I hope they shut them down.

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February 22nd, 2013
8:15 am

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John E Foddrill sr

February 22nd, 2013
8:16 pm

News Flash: The ongoing investigation has ties to two Federal Civil Rights lawsuits filed to challenge illegal, unconstitutional bans issued to whistleblowers reporting decades of accounting fraud, bond fraud, grant fraud and the theft / misuse of tens of millions of dollars. The investigation is tainted due to the involvement of FBI agent D. True Brown of the San Antonio TX field office, other FBI agents and Texas Department of Public Safety officers who conspired to help San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and other City of San Antonio TX officials hide the criminal conspiracy. DPS Director McCraw, Asst. DPS Director Kidd, DPS Major Alexis, Texas Ranger Chief Denby and others covered up the aggravated perjury and obstruction committed by former Texas Ranger Chief Hank Whitman when he lied under oath to help conceal the criminal activity .The FBI refuses to investigate the illegal conspiracy citing fraudulent documents published by FBI agent Brown.

The evidence is tainted and will be challenged .

Note: Federal Civil Rights complaint SA13CV0051 was filed on January 17, 2013. Complaint SA13CV0091 was filed on February 11, 2013 by the Texas Civil Rights Project .

Timmy

February 24th, 2013
4:43 pm

Clubber Lang

February 26th, 2013
12:17 pm

They should raid physicians offices next. Since Obamacare passed mine bill my insurance everytime I go in for preventative care by finding an excuse to do unnecessary tests and procedures. Last time it was an impromptu blood cholesterol check (don’t you have to fast before those?). Oh and while we are raiding folks when is the Department of Justice going to do anything about the numerous instances of mail and wire fraud perpetrated by big banks every year. I mean if I lied to someone about how much money they have to get them to take a high interest loan out from me (fees) would I be going to jail?