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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.

The trio discussed the difficulties in obtaining the prescribing data, why pharmaceutical companies already knew what was being prescribed, how doctor’s responded to the data being made public and what Medicare could do to improve Part D prescribing.

“It doesn’t necessarily take legislation to get change in this program,” said Ornstein. “It could share information with state medical giving them the information they can use it as part of their investigations. It can allow insurers to talk to one another and share with them a doctor’s prescribing across all plans and not just within their narrow slice of plans. One of the things we identified is that doctors who were under criminal charges for defrauding the Medicare Part D program were still able to prescribe within the program. And the former administrator of Medicare said, 'This makes no sense. The agency can do something about this and should.' So these are not all really sophisticated solutions that would require an influx of billions of dollars. A lot of these are just common sense solutions that require a will to make happen, and I think with some congressional pressure, may actually begin to happen.”

Mike Webb

Mike Webb was the vice president/communications of ProPublica. He is a veteran communications specialist with experience in public relations, marketing, sales and campaign work at media companies, think tanks, political organizations and in the entertainment business.

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