The cost of drugs for the liver disease in the first half of 2015 almost matches the total for all of 2014.
New data on drug and device company payments to doctors largely excludes nurse practitioners and physician assistants, though they play an ever-larger role in health care. One advanced-practice nurse pleaded guilty last month to taking drug company kickbacks.
Medicare has increased oversight of its prescription drug program but many holes remain, allowing fraud and abuse to proliferate. Questionable practices were found at 1,400 pharmacies, which collectively billed Medicare $2.3 billion in 2014.
The move follows an investigation showing that Medicare did little to find dangerous prescribing by doctors to seniors and the disabled. It is also part of the government’s new push to bring transparency to taxpayer-supported medical care.
Medicare gives itself the power to ban physicians if they prescribe medications in abusive ways.
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 investigation that found fraud flourishing in the program.