This year Medicare has started examining prescribing data to identify physicians who write large numbers of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers and stimulants. Next year Medicare will be able to kick doctors out of the program if they are found to be prescribing in abusive ways, USA Today reports.
Twelve of Medicare’s top 20 prescribers of drugs such as oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl and Ritalin faced disciplinary actions by their state medical boards or criminal charges related to their medical practices in 2012. These are Schedule 2 drugs, meaning the government classifies them as having a high potential for abuse. One doctor in Huntsville, Alabama, wrote more than 14,000 Schedule 2 prescriptions in 2012. He had his controlled-substances certificate suspended by the state medical board, and surrendered his medical license.
Medicare’s drug program, Medicare Part D, pays for more than one-fourth of prescriptions dispensed in the United States, the article notes. The program covers about 38 million seniors and disabled people.