Medicare drug plans received $3.6 million to cover dead enrollees

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 6, 2011

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Government auditors uncovered $3.6 million paid to Medicare Part D plans on behalf of deceased patients, according to a May report from the Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

As a result, the inspector general recommended the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recoup the money and take steps to prevent similar improper payments in the future. The OIG used data from the Social Security Administration to identify enrollees who died between July 2005 and July 2007. It found 1,500 cases where the Medicare agency continued to make payments to drug plans for the enrollees for at least one month after they had died.

CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD, insisted that the agency had recovered the $3.6 million, according to a memo in response to the report. Also, CMS data showed that more than 1,000 of the 1,500 patients cited in the report were alive throughout the review period, he said.

Despite the discrepancies cited by CMS, the inspector general declined to change its findings before releasing the report.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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