KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Missed Savings Opportunities In Medicare Program

The Wall Street Journal details a report from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General. Meanwhile, Kaiser Health News reports on a study that details missed savings of prescription drug costs.

The Wall Street Journal: Room For Savings Found In Medicare
The federal government's Medicare program could have saved nearly $1 billion in 2011 if it had paid the lowest rate negotiated by private insurers for lab tests, federal investigators said in a report to be released Tuesday. A review of rates on 20 of the most common lab tests showed Medicare paid $910 million more than it would have if it had paid the rates of some state Medicaid plans and private insurers, according to the report by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General (Schatz, 6/11).

Kaiser Health News: Study: Brand Name Drugs Drive Up Medicare Spending
A new study suggests that cash-strapped Medicare missed an opportunity to save more than $1 billion by not addressing the varying costs and use of prescription drugs. Comparing Medicare enrollees and those on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health plan, researchers found that Medicare beneficiaries were up to three times more likely than VA patients to choose higher-cost brand name drugs over generic brands, according to the Annals of Internal Medicine  (Rao, 6/11).

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