KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Sen. Grassley Asks HHS To Probe Doctors Using Excessive Prescriptions

The Miami Herald: "Based on the huge numbers of prescriptions written by a Miami psychiatrist, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is continuing to pressure federal officials to investigate why some doctors write stunning numbers of scripts for tax-funded Medicare and Medicaid programs. In his latest volley, a letter sent Wednesday to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Grassley demanded exact answers to three pointed questions about what her department is doing to address the problem" (Cabra and Dorschner, 10/21).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: "A key U.S. Senator is asking federal officials to investigate after reviewing data that shows doctors across the country prescribing alarmingly high numbers of powerful mental health drugs paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. … The findings include a Miami doctor who wrote nearly 97,000 prescriptions in 18 months for mental health drugs for Medicaid patients and an Ohio physician who wrote about 102,000 prescriptions in two years. … The federal government does not investigate doctors who prescribe suspiciously high rates of drugs for fraud, and instead lumps them into a separate category where they are referred for medical review or education, according to Grassley's investigation. Critics say the medical reviews are nothing more than a slap on the wrist for doctors, allowing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ignore the role prescription drug fraud plays in the estimated $60 [billion] to $90 billion a year Medicare fraud problem" (Kennedy, 10/21). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.