The Medicare program could be paying multiple times for prescription drugs for hospice beneficiaries, a new federal report suggests.
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HHS' inspector general's office conducted a nationwide review of prescription drugs for hospice beneficiaries between January and December 2009 and found that Medicare Part D paid for a variety of prescription medications—including analgesic, anti-nausea, laxative and anti-anxiety drugs and drugs to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—that should have been covered under the per diem payments made to hospice organizations under Medicare Part A. Investigators found 198,543 hospice beneficiaries who, through the Medicare Part D program, received 677,022 prescription drugs that potentially should have been covered under the daily payments made to hospice organizations. Meanwhile, Part D paid pharmacies more than $33.6 million for these drugs, and beneficiaries paid more than $3.8 million in copayments.