Medicare puzzle: Big rise in artificial feet costs



WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a Medicare puzzle and officials say they don’t have an answer for it.

New research for The Associated Press shows that Medicare’s bill for artificial feet rose nearly 60 percent in recent years, although foot and leg amputations due to diabetes are going down.

Medicare paid $94 million for artificial feet in 2010.That was nearly $35 million more than in 2005, even though in 2010, Medicare covered about 1,900 fewer such artificial limbs. The research by Avalere Health shows a shift to more expensive high-tech models.

Industry says there’s nothing wrong and patients are benefiting from technology used for wounded troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

But others question if the newer devices are medically appropriate for patients who aren’t as physically active as other people.