Gunmaker Wants Medicare to Pay for Elderly Arms

Granny-gun company shooting from the hip replacement

A New Jersey gun company is arguing that a deadly pistol they produce is a "medical device," and thus eligible for coverage by Medicare.

Constitution Arms, maker of the "Palm Pistol," is hoping that the government will reimburse seniors who purchase the single-shot weapon.  The gun features a thumb-operated feature that designers say is easier for arthritic shooters to operate.

"It's something that they need to assist them in daily living," Matthew Carmel, the company's president, said in an interview with New Scientist magazine, apparently in all seriousness.

"The justification for this would be no more or less for a [walking aid] or wheelchair, or any number of things that are medical devices," said Carmel.

The Palm Pistol is being marketed as an easy to use, easy to conceal weapon for home defense, concealed carry or as a backup gun.  "Point and shoot couldn't be easier," declares the company's Web site.

The company faces several obstacles in its battle to put guns in the hands of the cash-strapped elderly. Even if the FDA grants the gun approval as a medical device — an unlikely outcome — Constitution Arms would need additional approval from Medicare to qualify for reimbursements.

"The first question for Medicare is whether this would be potentially beneficial, and the answer seems to be obviously no," Kevin Schulman, an expert at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., told New Scientist.

"I can't imagine that Medicare would pay for this, since it doesn't meet their criteria," he said. "They're trying to game the system, clearly, but hopefully they won't get much further."

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