KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Heavy Painkiller Use, Abuse Remains Serious Problem For Medicare Patients, Report Finds

Doctor shopping -- obtaining large amounts of the drugs prescribed by four or more doctors and filled at four or more pharmacies -- also appears to be a major issue in the program.

ProPublica: ‘Extreme’ Use Of Painkillers And Doctor Shopping Plague Medicare, New Report Says
In Washington, D.C., a Medicare beneficiary filled prescriptions for 2,330 pills of oxycodone, hydromorphone and morphine in a single month last year — written by just one of the 42 health providers who prescribed the person such drugs... These are among the examples cited in a sobering new report released today by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Ornstein, 7/13)

Stat: Feds Identify Prescribers Giving Too Many Opioids To Part D Beneficiaries
In the latest bid to stem the opioid epidemic, investigators at the Department of Health and Human Services have identified excessive prescribing patterns in Medicare Part D involving hundreds of doctors and plan to work with law enforcement authorities to curtail the practice. In a new report, the HHS Office of Inspector General found that 401 prescribers last year wrote more than 256,200 prescriptions for nearly 90,000 Part D beneficiaries who were deemed to be at serious risk because they received “extreme” amounts of opioids or appeared to be doctor shopping. (Silverman, 7/13)

In other news on the crisis —

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