Are Medicare Recipients Taking Drugs, or Selling Them?

by Admin on October 5, 2011

in Medicare, News, Patients

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Are poor Medicare recipients drug addicts, or are they selling their drugs on the street?  The stereotype out of the Government Acocunting Office says they are addicts defrauding the government.  Looking at the same study with an open mind, I think it’s just as easy to say they are trying to make ends meet by buying and selling drugs, just like most of the other residents of ghettos and barrios where the 99% live:

In 600 cases revealed in the audit, Medicare beneficiaries received prescriptions from as many as 87 different doctors in the same year indicating, the report said, that the patients shopped around to find as many providers as possible to write prescriptions for drugs in those 14 categories — mostly controlled substances and primarily hydrocodone and oxycodone.

“In these situations, there is heightened concern that these Medicare beneficiaries may be seeking several medical practitioners to support and disguise an addiction,” Kutz told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Managment, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security on Tuesday.

The people who received multiple prescriptions accounted for $148 million in loss to Medicare, according to the Government Accounting Office, which conducted the audit. GAO believes that most of the “doctor shoppers,” who are disabled or elderly, are addicted to the drugs they’re buying.

I would like to challenge GAO: I would bet otherwise. I bet they are selling their excess drugs on the street to get money to live on. In this nation of haves and have-nots, Medicare is one of the last remaining sources of safety.

I looked this up on the internet. Here’s what Yahoo Answers says is the prevailing rate for oxycontin on the street: “usually the cardinal rule for all recreational pills is a buck a milligram.” In Palm Beach County Florida, where many elderly people live, recreational pain killers go for $8-$10 a pill.

Before we assume the Medicare beneficiaries themselves are the addicts, let’s look at who they are:

One barrier to spotting fraud among Medicare beneficiaries with low incomes is that they are a special group that can switch Medicare plans monthly, making it difficult to spot excessive prescriptions or excessive visits to the doctor, Kutz noted. Traditional Medicare beneficiaries can only switch Medicare plans once a year.

Doesn’t it make more sense that these people, who probably lack other necessities in life, have put their disabilities to work for them in the only way they can — to use them to procure drugs and re-sell them on the street. Of course looking at it that way would mean taking a systemic view of poverty, disability, social problems, and drug addiction. Prescription drug addiction is just as prevalent among the rich as among the poor, only the rich can afford to pay the $10 a pill.

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