Heavy price: Medicare overpaying for back braces

WASHINGTON - A new report says Medicare has been paying more than $900 for a standard-type back brace you can find on the Internet for $250 or less.

In a report to be released Wednesday, investigators say Medicare paid an average of $919 for back braces that cost suppliers $191 apiece, a window on how wasteful spending drives up health care costs.

The inspector general at the federal Health and Human Services Department says Medicare and its beneficiaries could have saved millions of dollars if what the program paid more closely reflected the cost to suppliers.

A copy of the report was obtained by The Associated Press.

Investigators decided to take a look after costs for the back braces went up $60 million in just a few years.