Federal Report Identifies $65 Million in Improper Medicaid Drug Spending
On Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office released an audit finding $65 million in potential prescription drug misuse in Medicaid programs in five states between 2006 and 2007, USA Today reports.
The audit focused on 10 types of commonly misused prescription painkillers and mood-altering drugs in California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Texas. The states combined to account for 40% of drug payments made by Medicaid in fiscal years 2006 and 2007.
The audit found nearly 65,000 potential cases of "doctor-shopping," a practice in which patients visit numerous physicians and dozens of pharmacies in an attempt to obtain prescription drugs. The report also found 65 physicians or pharmacists who continued to write or fill prescriptions after they were banned from Medicaid, some for having previously sold illegal drugs.
In addition, 1,800 prescriptions were written for dead patients and 1,200 prescriptions were written by dead physicians, the audit found.
Report Could Help Reform Efforts
According to USA Today, the report could help President Obama's attempts to reform the U.S. health system. Obama has repeatedly called for eliminating waste from Medicare and Medicaid to finance an expansion of health care coverage.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who has scheduled hearings on Wednesday to discuss the audit's findings, said the report presents "an enormous opportunity to save money."In prepared testimony for the hearing, Ann Kohler, director of the National Association of State Medicaid Directors, said that there are "significant issues that must be addressed" as states continue to battle potential prescription drug misuse in the Medicaid program, such as decreases in state budgets that have slowed improvements to information technology that can be used to track such misuse (Kiely, USA Today, 9/29). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.