How would you feel if you found out your doctor or physician was pressured into providing you with a prescription for a mobility scooter even if you didn’t need one? Recently, the FBI, the Texas Attorney General, and the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health have raided the corporate office of The Scooter Store to find out what kinds of harassment this company has placed on your doctors.
Critics claim this company is ripping off the government for hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
As many as 150 federal and state agents evacuated the building, telling The Scooter Store employees to collect their personal belongings and head for the door. They also advised everyone to leave their work documents untouched.
A video taken by one employee inside the building shows an official ushering people to the exits. One man asks, “Is there any way we can know what’s going on?”
The official replies, “We’re executing a federal search warrant.”
Once people filed out, they were handed flyers with contact information for the FBI. One employee tells CBS, “I pray to God that everyone’s OK, and that they find employment if this place shuts down.”
Late in 2012, former employees told CBS News that the company’s best interest was not to help patients, but to instead “bulldoze doctors into writing faulty prescriptions to boost profits.” Former employees were instructed to persistently call and make face-to-face appointments with doctors in order to write these prescriptions.
“I’d get a call, ‘Well, can you go in to get him to do this? Could you get him to do this?’ I couldn’t feel right in my heart to do that,” said Brian Setzer, a former employee, in explaining how the corporate office instructed him in conducting business with these doctors. Setzer continued, “They pushed the docs so hard that they didn’t want anything to do with you.”
The Scooter Store would not agree to an on-camera interview with CBS, but told them it’s committed to improving quality of life for seniors and the disabled, saying its “rigorous internal screening process–including a Medicare-required, face-to-face doctor examination–disqualifies 88 percent of those seeking Medicare or private insurance reimbursement for power mobility devices.”
The evidence collection at the Scooter Store corporate office is complete, but the investigation is still ongoing. So far no charges have been filed and no arrests have been made, but the company is agreeing to repay the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the over-billing.
CBS correspondent Jeff Glor stated, “The recoupment of the money is a big part of this. The Scooter Store did agree to pay back $19.5 million last year. Medicare said they were over-billed $108 million. So there’s been some controversy about that because Medicare says that was not a settlement. That’s just a starting point.”
The Scooter Store has filed for bankruptcy as a result of this investigation, and wants to substantially sell off its assets by the end of July, while continuing to operate on a diminished basis. According to the company’s website, the company is still in operation, albeit on a reduced staff of just 300 employees, and are asking customers to understand and expect some delays and disruptions in service.
The investigation and bankruptcy has also resulted in over 2,700 workers losing their jobs, which has had a huge impact in the New Braunfels community outside of San Antonio, Texas. Some of those employees are filing suit against The Scooter Store’s owner, Douglas Harrison, stating that Harrison “cooked the books” on their retirement plan stocks.
Do you own a mobility scooter from The Scooter Store? Tell us what you think of this investigation.