Setting uniform reimbursement for just three prescription drugs would save Medicare about $700 million annually, HHS' inspector general's office said in a new report. The office said the CMS would have saved $659 million in fiscal 2002 if it reimbursed for two popular drugs used for asthma and emphysema under the same policy state Medicaid programs use. Medicare is one of the highest payers for both drugs, Albuterol and ipratropium bromide, the report said. For example, Medicare pays 47 cents per milligram of Albuterol, while Medicaid programs pay 17 cents per milligram and the Veteran Affairs Department pays a median of 5 cents per milligram. In addition, the inspector general's office said Medicare and its beneficiaries would save $40 million annually if a "least costly alternative policy" were adopted for the prostate cancer drug Lupron by the 10 Medicare carriers that don't currently have such a policy. -- by Mark Taylor
Report backs uniform Medicare payments for drugs
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