In order to combat fraud and drug abuse in the federal Medicare prescription drug program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed changes to how medications are prescribed and dispensed.
"Prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing problem nationwide. Unfortunately, the Medicare Part D prescription drug program (Part D) is not immune from the abuses associated with this nationwide epidemic," the CMS said in a statement. "[We are] taking steps to protect Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare Trust fund from the harm and damaging effects associated with prescription drug abuse."
With the use of prescription monitoring databases, the agency will track medical providers and pharmacies that may be engaging in illegal activities. In addition, the CMS will revoke a physician's Medicare privileges if:
- The agency determines that the doctor has a pattern of over-prescribing medications like opioid-based painkillers
- The medical provider's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) certificate has been suspended or revoked
- The medical provider's state licensing body has suspended their ability to prescribe medications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 100 people die from prescription drug overdoses every day. The agency has said that the problem is now at epidemic levels. The CMS's proposed changes are expected to limit the number of pills in circulation, keeping them out of the hands of the wrong people.
Combating prescription drug abuse often begins in the home. If you have unused medications, be sure to dispose of them properly.