October 21,2010

Grassley Urges Federal Government to Investigate High Number of Prescriptions Under Medicare, Medicaid

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has asked federal officials to respond to his analysis showing some doctors across the country prescribe much higher numbers of certain prescription drugs than their peers.  Taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid pay for the medicine.

"The federal government has an obligation to figure out what's going on here. The taxpayers are footing the bill, and Medicare and Medicaid are already strained to the limit," Grassley said. "These programs can't spare a dollar for prescription drugs that aren't properly prescribed. The conclusion might be that there isn't any fraud, but it's important to reach a conclusion one way or the other and fix whatever is broken."

Grassley is ranking member of the Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid.  His analysis of data includes a Miami doctor who wrote nearly 97,000 prescriptions in 21 months for mental health drugs for Medicaid patients and an Ohio physician who wrote about 102,000 prescriptions in two years. A Texas doctor wrote 14,170 prescriptions for the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in 2009, far exceeding other high prescribers in that state. The 10th highest prescriber in Texas for Xanax wrote 1,696 prescriptions in 2009, Grassley said.

Grassley wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking her to account for how the agency is overseeing and handling prescription data under Medicare and Medicaid, including whether it determines that the prescriptions are legitimate or fraudulent.