Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) introduced the Stop Excessive Narcotics in our Retirement (SENIOR) Communities Protection Act, legislation that would protect seniors from criminals who misuse the Medicare system to illicitly acquire opioids. The bill will give Medicare Part D, or the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the ability to suspend payments to a pharmacy that is under investigation for fraud. This is the same tool available to Medicare Parts A and B.
“The surplus of unneeded opioids in our communities is caused in part by criminals who abuse the system and fraudulently use Medicare accounts from seniors to acquire and distribute high amounts of opioids,” said Cortez Masto. “This legislation will help prevent abuse of the Medicare system, protect Medicare dollars for seniors who rely on them, and curb the excessive number of illicit opioids that are flooding our communities.”
“The opioid epidemic has been ravaging communities for too long,” said Kennedy. “Criminals are exploiting the Medicare system to get as many illegal pills and drugs out there as possible. That’s why the SENIOR Communities Protection Act is so important. Sadly, senior citizens’ Medicare numbers are being stolen and misused. It’s time we crack down on the rampant Medicare fraud happening in our country. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this important legislation.”
Seniors have had their Medicare numbers stolen and then used to fraudulently bill Medicare for opioids. “Pill dumping” has resulted in millions of painkillers flooding small towns through just a few pharmacies – much of it paid for by Medicare. Last year the Department of Justice announced one of the biggest healthcare fraud busts in its history, charging 412 defendants for billing the government for $1.3 billion in fraudulent charges, including for prescription opioids which were then distributed.
The text of the bill can be found HERE.