Wonder why health care costs are out of control? One reason is the government — meaning you, the taxpayer — is footing the bill for abusive pill popping.
The Government Accountability Office looked at five states — California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, and Texas — and found some pretty scary Medicaid abuse.
GAO: About 65,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in the five selected states acquired the same type of controlled substances from six or more different medical practitioners during fiscal years 2006 and 2007 with the majority of beneficiaries visiting from 6 to 10 medical practitioners. Such activities, known as doctor shopping, resulted in about $63 million in Medicaid payments and do not include medical costs (e.g., office visits) related to getting the prescriptions.
Yikes. Of course, some have justifiable reasons for receiving prescriptions from multiple doctors, such as visiting specialists or several practicioners in the same medical group. But for the most part, this was wasteful abuse.
However, GAO found that other beneficiaries obtained these drugs to support their addictions or to sell on the street.
In addition, GAO found that Medicaid paid over $2 million in controlled substance prescriptions during fiscal years 2006 and 2007 that were written or filled by 65 medical practitioners and pharmacies barred, excluded, or both from federal health care programs, including Medicaid, for such offenses as illegally selling controlled substances.
Finally, GAO found that according to Social Security Administration data, pharmacies filled controlled substance prescriptions of over 1,800 beneficiaries who were dead at that time.
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