Rural Doctors, Administrators Push For Health Reform To Include Safeguards Against Rx Drug Abuse

An increase in prescription drug fraud has caused doctors and hospital administrators to call for legislation to provide stronger safeguards. They say that such measures are especially important to protect government programs such as Medicaid and that heath reform proposals should increase coverage for drug treatment and rehabilitation. They note that prescription drug abuse and Medicaid fraud are especially sensitive issues in rural areas that struggle to attract providers.

McClatchy reports: "Many doctors and hospital administrators who serve Kentucky's small towns say they eagerly await changes in health care. But they also fear that Congress might not provide the right kind of incentives to allow rural hospitals to cover their costs and recruit talented medical professionals or go far enough in eliminating Medicaid waste and fraud related to prescription drugs. Failure to do so, they say, will make health care providers' jobs tougher."

A recent government report found that "tens of thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries and providers are involved in 'potential fraudulent purchases of controlled substances, abusive purchases of controlled substances or both' in such places as California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Texas. .... In the meantime, congressional Blue Dog Democrats, many of whom represent rural communities in the South and Midwest, are pushing for 'rural health equity' with higher reimbursement rates for physicians and hospitals in areas of the country that struggle to recruit and retain health care providers" (Abdullah, 10/19).

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