Medicare covers WHAT?
Seniors may struggle to get basic medical services covered, but Medicare hasn't forgotten about all their needs.
Reporter: Tammy Vo
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Need a hearing aid? Medicare won't cover it. Need a prosthetic hand? No money from Medicare. Need a cavity filled? Not a chance. But if you need a pump, you are covered.
It's a device that does for men mechanically what Viagra does for them medically and 9 On Your Side discovered that it's 80-percent covered by Medicare with a prescription. Companies like PosTvac advertise this fact in their late-night television commercials.
"Vacuum therapy is so safe and effective it's now the only vacuum therapy covered by Medicare part B" says the commercial.
Senior Joy Dolan is one of many seniors who recently showed up at Armory Park for a Medicare fair to help them figure out what Medicare will pay for.
"Well I think there's less coverage and they're charging more" said Dolan.
Friend Marge Greco added, "There's some things they do, some they don't and some they should."
Lydia Baker of the Pima Council on Aging takes complaints from seniors about Medicare coverage. "The co-payments have gone up. The maximum out of pocket has actually doubled" said Baker. But the biggest complaint she gets is about lack of basic dental coverage along with routine eye exams.
Senior Angela Casey told KGUN 9, "I think they should help the women too. They're helping the men why not the women? We're not getting dental care either."
The guys must be happy about this, right?
Not Senior Manuel Boroquez. Reporter Tammy Vo asked him "So do you support Medicare covering this?"
"No. I would support them covering teeth and eyesight... the hell with it!" he answered.
So who decides what's covered and what's not? A Medicare spokesman told KGUN 9 in an email:
We cover the pump because the statute says we must cover things that are reasonable and necessary for diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury. The same law says we cannot pay for glasses, hearing aides or dentistry.
Senator Frank Antenori said, "Most normal people go, that's insane! Why would they cover this and not that? That's what you get when Bureaucrats and the government are running the health care system. I'm sure there are companies out there that lobby those in the Medicare office to get certain things covered by Medicare and that's what you get".
A Medicare spokesman also explained that the rules on what they cover were made by Congress 46 years ago when it created Medicare.
If you have an opinion about what Medicare should and should not cover, contact your U.S. Representative or Senator.
Do you think Medicare should be using taxpayer money to cover this device? Weigh in on the conversation on KGUN 9's Facebook page. You can also discuss the story with Reporter Tammy Vo on her Facebook page.