Medicare Bought Medicines for Dead People

Lifestyle and BudgetAssociated Press

A government watchdog agency says Medicare's prescription drug program kept paying for costly medications even after patients were dead.

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The problem apparently started with a bureaucratic rule that's now getting a second look.

A report coming out Friday from the Health and Human Services Department's inspector general says Medicare has been allowing payment for prescriptions filled up to 32 days after a patient's death.

The report looked at a tiny sliver of Medicare prescriptions — those for HIV drugs. It found that Medicare paid $292,381 for AIDS drugs for 158 dead beneficiaries in 2012.

Investigators say they think the problem is much bigger, because the same payment rule applies to all medications dispensed through the $85 billion program.

Medicare says it's working on a fix.