Medicare paid for prescriptions for drugs, including controlled substances such as oxycodone, written by professionals including massage therapists, home health aides and veterinarians, who were not authorized to do so, ABC News reports.
The findings come from a report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General, who found that in 2009, unauthorized professionals wrote hundreds of thousands of prescriptions that were paid for by Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs.
The report found 29,212 prescriptions for controlled substances were ordered by 4,863 people who were not authorized to write such prescriptions. These included 7,679 prescriptions for Schedule II drugs such as oxycodone and morphine.
Other professionals who wrote unauthorized prescriptions included athletic trainers, dieticians, opticians, transportation companies, and music and art therapists. The report cited a Florida massage therapist who wrote 3,756 prescriptions, an Ohio social worker who wrote 1,539 prescriptions and an interpreter who wrote 1,210.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the report today. Committee Chairman Tom Carper of Delaware told ABC News, “For a physical therapist, a massage therapist, there may be things that they should be able to write a prescription for, they could be reimbursed by Medicare. Should they be writing prescriptions for controlled substances? No! Can we stop that? Yes, we can.” He added, “I think we are talking the loss of tens of millions of dollars from the Medicare trust fund, money that we don’t have.”