By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
UNDATED -- Should Medicare or private health insurance pay for a gun that's specially made for people with disabilities?
The gun is called the Palm Pistol because it fits in the palm of your hand and you fire it with your thumb, rather than the traditional trigger pull with your finger.
Its maker says the FDA has classified it as a medical assist device, which would be a first step toward possibly getting the cost covered by insurance. If that happened, the gun could one day be prescribed by a doctor.
The Palm Pistol is essentially a 9 millimeter that can fire one shot at a time and its maker says it's perfect for people of all ages with a hand or finger disability and for senior citizens who have a condition like severe arthritis.
If enough people express interest in it, it'll be available in the year 2010, at a cost of $300 a pop.
The ATF says because it fits the criteria of a firearm, people who buy it from gun dealers, must go through the standard FBI background check.
The Palm Pistol's manufacturer says getting it approved as a medical assist device could eventually lead to the cost being covered by Medicare or private insurance companies.
On the company's website, he writes: "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has completed its ‘Device/Not a Device' determination and ruled the pistol will be listed as a Class I Medical Device."
He says that's because it's designed "to help or assist people with certain medical conditions."
When people argue a gun doesn't improve anyone's health, he quotes a blogger who says in part, "How does a walker, cane, wheelchair or scooter improve someone's health? It doesn't, it improves their mobility. How does a hearing aid improve someone's health? It doesn't, it allows the hearing impaired to hear more clearly. How does a specially designed handgun improve someone's health? It doesn't, it allows arthritic or disease/age weakened individuals to protect themselves."
Medicare personnel told The News On 6 the Palm Pistol wouldn't be covered because there's no benefits classification for weapons. Second, if a classification was ever created, the device would have to be deemed reasonable and necessary.
The News On 6 received an email from the maker of the gun, saying it had been classified as a medical device. But, later received an email from the FDA that says it has determined the product is not a medical device.
The head of the company told The News On 6 he just received the same information and suspects pressure was put on them to deny his request.