Congress Pays For Entitlement Expansion With Cut To Penis Pumps

Congress Pays For Entitlement Expansion With Cut To Penis Pumps

Disability Bill Gives Some Men the Shaft

The House and Senate are preparing to vote on the “Achieving a Better Life Experience” (ABLE) Act, a bipartisan bill that establishes tax-favored savings accounts for those with disabilities. While the idea of these accounts (which would function similar to Roth IRAs) isn’t a bad one, the bill does expand the welfare state, as The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector and Romina Boccia note, by eliminating asset tests for “all means-tested welfare programs for families with a child who is eligible for SSI”, the disability program which is run through Social Security, as well as the asset test for “all welfare when disabled children become adults.” It also exacerbates the marriage penalty, which disincentivizes single mothers from marrying. Taken as a whole, in a system already throbbing with fraud, Congress is about to incentivize a lot more families to try and qualify for disability.

So how to pay for this expanded entitlement? A look at the offsets for the ABLE Act is where things get interesting. You may be surprised to learn that one of the many things taxpayers waste millions on every year are penis pumps purchased through the Medicare program. This sort of thing should get a rise out of taxpayers, but the government has continued to stroke that credit card, spending over a quarter of a billion dollars over the past decade on these pumps, many of them purchased fraudulently.

The major thrust of the savings lies in a turgid provision buried deep inside the legislative text. The ABLE Act is primarily funded by money taken from prohibiting penis pump purchases until such time as Medicare Part D covers erectile dysfunction drugs to the tune of $444 million dollars. From the description of the act:

Sec. 203. Consistent treatment of vacuum erection systems in Medicare Parts B and D. This provision would prohibit Medicare coverage of vacuum erection systems (VES) until such time that Medicare covers erectile dysfunction drugs under Medicare Part D. When the Part D program was created in 2003, it established a statutory prohibition on erectile dysfunction drugs. CBO estimates that this provision will reduce spending by $444 million.

You got it: of all the items budgeteers could pump for savings, they went straight for the penis pumps. The problem is that they’re going to jack up entitlement spending with this funding, amounting to a humorous but ultimately pretty flaccid attempt to cut government spending.

But look on the bright side: even if the Congress is about to expand access to entitlements, GOP lawmakers deserve credit for reaching around the aisle to erect bipartisan support for penis pump reduction efforts. They did a handy job of finding savings to pay for new government programs, but taxpayers deserve better than spending cuts that resemble a one-night stand. They need a more longstanding commitment.

Everyone knows government sucks, but it will at least suck a little less with these cuts to the vacuum-based erection program. It’s just too bad they’re blowing all the savings on a new spending splurge. That sort of thing is very much their bag, baby.

Ben Domenech is the publisher of The Federalist. Sign up for a free trial of his daily newsletter, The Transom.
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