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The Prescribers

The federal government does little to stop schemers from stealing from Medicare Part D, the program that provides prescription drugs to more than 36 million seniors and disabled people. More »

The failure to track doctors who shun cheaper generics racks up huge costs for taxpayers in Medicare Part D, which fills one of every four U.S. prescriptions. More »

Prescription data obtained by ProPublica shows widespread use of antipsychotics, narcotics and other drugs dangerous for older adults, but Medicare officials say it's not their job to look for unsafe prescribing or weed out doctors with troubled backgrounds. More »

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As Controlled Substance Use Rises in Medicare, Prolific Prescribers Face More Scrutiny

Despite warnings about abuse, Medicare covered more prescriptions for potent controlled substances in 2012 than it did in 2011. The program's top prescribers often have faced disciplinary action or criminal charges related to their medical practices.

Using Prescriber Checkup: A Quick Guide

Illinois Suspends Medical License of Leading Prescriber of Antipsychotic Drugs

For years, Dr. Michael Reinstein prescribed the powerful drug clozapine more than any other doctor in Medicare or Medicaid. His patterns were the subject of two ProPublica articles and he faces a federal civil lawsuit alleging health care fraud.

Suspicious Prescriptions for HIV Drugs Abound in Medicare

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finds Medicare spent tens of millions of dollars in 2012 for HIV drugs there’s little evidence patients needed. A 77-year-old woman with no record of HIV got $33,500 of medication.

Fanny Pack Mixup Unravels Massive Medicare Fraud Scheme

Two secretaries in a doctor’s office have pleaded guilty and a pharmacy owner faces charges in a scam that Medicare allowed to thrive for more than two years.

Following Abuses, Medicare Tightens Reins on Its Drug Program

Medicare gives itself the power to ban physicians if they prescribe medications in abusive ways. The action follows a series of articles by ProPublica documenting inappropriate prescribing, waste and fraud in its popular drug program.

The Perils of Problematic Prescribing: A Double Dose of Warnings

Two new reports from the CDC show the dangers of overprescribing narcotics and antibiotics. Is there a way for doctors and consumers to make better decisions?

Medicare’s Drug Program Needs Stronger Protections Against Fraud, Watchdog Says

A new report finds that more than half of insurance companies in Medicare’s drug program haven’t reported fraud cases to the government. The findings echo an earlier ProPublica investigation that found fraud flourishing in the program.

Some Predictions on How Medicare Will Release Physician Payment Data

Medicare will soon begin to release data about how much it pays doctors. The details are still unknown, but three recent projects offer some clues.

No Easy Definition for ‘Abusive’ Prescribing

As Medicare considers banning doctors who pose a “threat to the health or safety” of patients, it plans to consider an array of factors.

In A Major Shift, Medicare Wants Power to Ban Harmful Prescribers

Action follows ProPublica’s investigative series detailing inappropriate and wasteful prescribing, fraud in the nation’s biggest prescription drug program.

Caught Up in a Medicare Drug Fraud

The long list of medications on Joyce Heap’s insurance forms didn’t look right. It turns out they weren’t — and Medicare didn’t seem to care.

Medicare Moves to Tighten Oversight of Prescribers

Action comes after ProPublica uses the government’s own data to find patterns of dangerous prescribing, waste and potential fraud in Medicare Part D.

Senators Press Medicare for Answers on Drug Program

They ask federal officials to take a hard look at Medicare’s popular prescription drug program after ProPublica reports about fraud and waste that have cost taxpayers billions.

‘Let the Crime Spree Begin’: How Fraud Flourishes in Medicare’s Drug Plan

The federal government does little to stop schemers from stealing from Medicare Part D, the program that provides prescription drugs to more than 36 million seniors and disabled people.

Podcast: Millions Wasted on Brand-Name Drugs in Medicare

Steve Engelberg talks with Charlie Ornstein and Tracy Weber about the latest piece in their yearlong investigation of Medicare Part D, finding that a small sliver of prescribers is costing the system $300 million.

Generic or Name-Brand? 10 Docs Talk About Picking Drugs

With billions in potential savings for Medicare at stake, we asked drug experts and practitioners alike why more doctors don’t recommend generics when they can.

Discussion: Why Medicare Wastes Billions on Name-Brand Drugs

Ask reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber about their latest investigation into how Medicare wastes billions.

How Prescriber Checkup Can Help You

How We Analyzed Medicare Data

Questions About Our Medicare Data

Medicare’s Failure to Track Doctors Wastes Billions on Name-Brand Drugs

The failure to track doctors who shun cheaper generics racks up huge costs for taxpayers in Medicare Part D, which fills one of every four U.S. prescriptions.

Why You Should Care About the Drugs Your Doctor Prescribes

Patients currently have to rely on trust that their doctors prescribe them the right drugs. Our new tool, Prescriber Checkup, for the first time allows patients to see how health care providers stack up with peers.

A Rap Sheet For Medicare’s Prescription Drug Program

An update on the new events since we published our Prescriber Checkup investigation.

Senator Asks States If They Alert Medicare to Problem Physicians

Citing a ProPublica investigation, Iowa Republican Charles Grassley said that if Medicaid and Medicare don’t share information on bad doctors, patients could be at risk.

Podcast: Behind Our Prescriber Checkup Investigation

As we continue our investigation into the lack of oversight of the drugs prescribed in Medicare’s Part D program, senior reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber sat down with Steve Engelberg to talk about the project and their latest findings.

Top Medicare Official: ‘We Can and Should Do More’ to Oversee Drug Plan

Under pressure, Medicare's director tells a Senate panel the agency will intensify the search for abusive prescribing patterns and undertake other reforms.

Top Medicare Prescribers Rake In Speaking Fees From Drugmakers

Pay-to-prescribe is illegal, but doctors say they haven’t been influenced by the money they get for promoting drugs they also prescribe to large numbers of their patients.

Not Authorized to Prescribe Drugs? Medicare Pays Anyway.

Massage therapists, athletic trainers, interpreters and others who aren’t allowed to write prescriptions apparently issued at least 417,000 under Medicare.

Inspector General Faults Medicare for Not Tracking ‘Extreme’ Prescribers

Echoing a ProPublica investigation, a report finds hundreds of doctors with questionable and potentially dangerous prescribing patterns. In a response, Medicare says it will step up monitoring and review the list for fraud or abuse.

How We Analyzed Medicare’s Drug Data

ProPublica obtained Medicare Part D data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Freedom of Information Act. Here follows more information about the data and how we analyzed it.

Prescriber Checkup

Medicare’s popular prescription-drug program now serves more than 35 million people, but the names of prescribers and the drugs they choose have never previously been public. Use this tool to find and compare doctors and other top prescribers in 2010.

Medicare Drug Program Fails to Monitor Prescribers, Putting Seniors and Disabled at Risk

Prescription data obtained by ProPublica show wide use of antipsychotics, narcotics and other drugs dangerous for older adults, but Medicare officials say it's not their job to look for unsafe prescribing or weed out doctors with troubled backgrounds.

FAQ: What You Need to Know About Prescriber Checkup

Frequently asked questions about our Prescriber Checkup news application.

Lifting the Veil on Dangerous Prescribing

The release of Medicare Part D records changes the conversation about how practitioners prescribe drugs -- and indicates the government could do more to ensure they do so safely.

Prescribers: What You Think About Medicare Part D?

1.7 million health providers wrote prescriptions under Medicare Part D in 2010. Were you one of them? We want to hear from you.

Eight Ways to Strengthen Medicare’s Drug Benefit

Former government officials, analysts and researchers say Medicare could improve oversight of its Part D drug benefit with these steps.

Is Your Doctor in Prescriber Checkup?

1.7 million health providers wrote prescriptions under Medicare Part D in 2010. Is your doctor one of them? Tell us what you think.

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