Reselling Medicaid Drugs

The Government Accountability Office analysis of Medicaid prescriptions obtained in five high-volume states estimates that about 65,000 Medicaid beneficiaries had seen in excess of five doctors in 2006 and 2007 to get multiple prescriptions for narcotics such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.  The cost to the Medicaid program was estimated at about $63 million dollars, excluding the cost of physicians visits. Several dozen people were arrested in Buffalo, New York as part of a criminal scheme to divert Medicaid drugs to drug dealers on the street.

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Bruce says:

    People have to make a living somehow.

  2. Stephen C. says:

    Whenever you hear about how low the administrative costs are in Medicare and medicaid, remember the amountg of fraud in these programs is enormous.

  3. Brian Williams. says:

    Congress has tried to address the “fraud, waste and abuse” in Medicaid for decades. Someday, someone in Congress hopefully will realize that what they’re doing isn’t working.

  4. Devon Herrick says:

    Patients who pay out-of-pocket often do not fill prescriptions for pain medications — opting to use cheaper drugs available over-the-counter. So, it stands to reason that narcotic pain relievers would be worth more to Medicaid enrollees as a source of income than as a pain medication. Once some of them figure this out, it doesn’t take them long to realize they could find more doctors willing to prescribe even more drugs.

  5. Ken says:

    This has been going on forever, and the government never seems to be able to do anything about it.

  6. Erik says:

    Here in California they have been arresting doctors who are simply drug pushers handing out thousands of pills to people they know don’t need them for profit.

    It seems too political to me to only focus on Medicaid recipients and not the doctors prescribing those drugs. But as the article explains, poor people have no representation so why not exploit them for political gain.

  7. Virginia says:

    Yet another reason to make every drug over the counter. You’re not going to stop people that are addicted to painkillers from getting their drug of choice. So why bother? It costs too much money, and it’s a waste of time.

    Legalizing all of this junk will create two forms of cost savings: lower drug prices for seniors and lower enforcement costs for law agencies. We all win.

    I was reflecting on this the other day as it pertained to a drug common to my generation: birth control. Why on earth would birth control be available only by prescription? It’s easy enough to figure out the dosage (one pill a day, one patch a week, etc). Why force women to do a physical exam when the medicine is so simple? (I know it has to do with antiquated religious beliefs regarding promiscuity and good lobbying on the part of gynecologists, but still. It’s downright silly. And expensive.)

  8. Neil H. says:

    Godd points, Virginia. Why not let drugs go to their highest valued uses?

  9. I have a lot of sympathy for Virginia’s comments. The federal government did not have the power to decide which drugs are prescription versus over-the-counter until the 1951 Durham-Humphrey amendment to the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act.

    I wrote about this a couple of years back, when I took a somewhat contrary stance on FDA pre-emption of states’ product-liability laws (

    Iny my humble opinion, the drug maker, who owns the intellectual property and bears the civil liability, should have the power to decide whether any given drug is Rx or OTC.