The Scooter Store Files for Bankruptcy; Texas Company under Investigation for Overbilling Medicare, Medicaid

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Byline: Luke Rosiak , THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Scooter Store, which ran late-night commercials implying that many people could get free motorized wheelchairs - paid for by taxpayers and profiting the company - has filed for bankruptcy after a federal investigation found the company overbilled Medicare and Medicaid by between $47 million and $88 million from 2009 to 2011.

The company spent years greasing the palms of politicians, perhaps to keep lawmakers from taking a hard look at Medicare eligibility and the for-profit companies that engage in doctor shopping and aggressive advertising.

It gave $86,273 to federal politicians in the 2012 election cycle and was a top source of funds for 19 members of Congress, split along party lines, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Since 2007, it has given $473,000 to politicians, and spent nearly $4 million on lobbying since 2004, with former Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, Connecticut Republican, as its lobbyist.

The Scooter Store was clear about what it sought to fend off, lobbying against legislation titled a bill to amend title XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act to curb waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, records show. That bill, sponsored by Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Delaware Democrat, died in committee.

The FBI raided the Scooter Store's Texas headquarters last month. Two weeks after that raid, Scooter's CEO Martin Landon sent an email to employees telling them not to return to work until further notice. The company's scooters and power chairs retail from $879 for the Travel Scooter to $4,415 for the EV Rider Royale 4 Wheel Scooter.

The company had agreed to repay the government $20 million to settle the overpayments, which were up to $88 million - money the government will now have to try to recover in bankruptcy proceedings. …