According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, private insurers under Medicare Part D have overcharged beneficiaries and taxpayers by billions of dollars since the program began in 2006. (Kaiser Network)
An estimated 80 percent of private insurance companies owe Medicare $4.4 billion. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not conducted audits it should have performed in 2006. Consequently, CMS doesn’t know the full impact of the overcharging. As of April 2007, the agency has performed only seven of 165 audits, according to the report, but CMS says it began or completed 103 of 165 audits.
In other Medicare prescription drug news, mail-order pharmacy owners contend that Medicare spending could be reduced if more beneficiaries with chronic conditions ordered drugs by mail. Mail ordering would also improve quality. The program could save up to $1 billion over 10 years for every 1 percent switching to mail-order medications.
Medco CEO Dave Snow said, “Chronic and complex disease is where you need to focus meaningful health reform, and that’s who we serve in mail.”
Federal law prevents mail-order pharmacies from offering “large incentives” to beneficiaries for switching to a mail-ordering system.
Those who oppose switching to large-scale mail-ordering are concerned that such a system would result in a loss of community for people who “crave a personal relationship with the person who gives them their medicine.” People may be put at ease talking to a pharmacist face-to-face rather than calling an 800 number.