Sen. Claire McCaskill Wants to Stop ‘Aggressive’ Medical Marketers

New Senate Subcommittee Supports American Consumers

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One of the hallmarks of Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill's time in office has been that of playing consumer watchdog for Americans. The outspoken critic of everything from automakers to satellite dish providers is taking on a new agenda. The Springfield News-Leader reports McCaskill wants stories from constituents and consumers who have been victimized by aggressive tactics employed by representatives of the medical equipment industry. A hearing is scheduled in Washington for April 24.

* Specifically, the senator wants to hear from ordinary people willing to share their experiences with overzealous salespeople before the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight in two weeks. Examples of such marketing tactics include repeated telephone calls and aggressive sales pitches.

* The focus of the panel will be durable medical equipment like diabetic testing equipment, CPAP machines, back braces and powered mobility devices. The aim of the new subcommittee is to save taxpayers' money when Medicare Part B payments are made to suppliers of medical devices.

* Anyone with a story to share can contact McCaskill at the email whistleblowers@mccaskill.senate.gov . The senator said, "It's clear talking to folks in and out of Missouri that what's going on in this industry deserves scrutiny -- these sales tactics are costing taxpayers money."

* Witnesses testifying before the panel include individuals representing companies in the industry as well as people who work for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The impetus for the hearing is from an investigation made the Department of Health and Human Services that discovered as many as $70 million in wasted overpayments to medical device suppliers.

* The new subcommittee has been given expanded oversight in the Senate. McCaskill stated in mid-February, "I'm putting every federal agency on notice -- any employee or contractor who wastes taxpayer money ... will have this committee to answer to."

* In 2009, the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight was a temporary panel formed by the Missouri senator. During this new session, McCaskill was given the chair of the committee on a permanent basis.

* At least three companies have been targeted by McCaskill for information to be given to the committee April 24. R&J Medical Sales, Eastern Arkansas Diabetic & Medical Supply and Med-Care Diabetic Supplies were sent letters requesting information. Several individuals and private citizens are invited to testify before the Senate.

* McCaskill touts 10 different ways in which she has fought hard for American consumers since 2007. Reverse mortgages, debt settlement companies, digital televisions and food safety have all been targets of the senator's power.

William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.

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