Medicare Slow to Recognize and Act on Prescription Drug Abuse by Beneficiaries

According to last week’s New York Times report, Medicare may be “subsidizing drug abuse” by several of its beneficiaries. Investigators from the Government Accountability Office have reported that Medicare has been slow to act on and recognize recent findings that show thousands of Medicare beneficiaries are shopping around for doctors who fill prescriptions for large quantities of painkillers and other narcotics far exceeding what any patient can safely use.

The GAO is recommending that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Dr. Donald M. Berwick “consider limiting patients who abuse prescription drugs to one prescriber per pharmacy.” The new regulation has been proposed in order to lessen the burden on working tax payers and business owners, many of which are already overburdened by the cost of their own health benefits.

Jonathan D. Blum, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services responded to the GAO’s request by stating that “greater use of electronic health records and the electronic transmission of prescriptions to drugstores could reduce fraud and abuse by making it easier to keep track of patients’ medication history.” Still, Medicare officials are reluctant to impose the requested regulation due to the fact that it “could jeopardize patients’ access to healthcare. The GAO presented their findings and evidence of abuse to the senate last Tuesday and is awaiting resolution.

Report by Melissa Cenker
Any opinions expressed within this and all posts are the opinions of the third parties quoted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Princeton HR Solutions, Melissa Cenker, or Melissa Cenker Consulting