Based on the huge numbers of prescriptions written by a Miami psychiatrist, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is continuing to pressure federal officials to investigate why some doctors write stunning numbers of scripts for tax-funded Medicare and Medicaid programs. In his latest volley, a letter sent Wednesday to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Grassley demanded exact answers to three pointed questions about what her department is doing to address the problem. “The federal government has an obligation to figure out what’s going on here,” Grassley said in a statement e-mailed to The Miami Herald Wednesday. “The taxpayers are footing the bill, and Medicare and Medicaid are already strained to the limit. These programs can’t spare a dollar for prescription drugs that aren’t properly prescribed.
A Miami psychiatrist who wrote 284,908 prescriptions over the past six years has cost Florida taxpayers $43 million, and a state senator said Friday that “he should be a poster boy” for a legislative inquiry into whether “tougher enforcement provisions are needed.”
Since 2004, a Miami psychiatrist has prescribed almost 14 million pills to Medicaid patients at a cost to taxpayers of $43 million, a state agency says. Fernando Mendez-Villamil would have had to issue 4,000 prescriptions a month, or 1,000 a week, to keep up that pace, according to the report released this week by the Agency for Health Care Administration. Altogether in the six years from 2004-09, he issued nearly 285,000 prescriptions, the AHCA report showed.
Medicare has stopped reimbursing a Miami psychiatrist who prescribed about 96,685 mental health drugs to Medicaid patients in 18 months. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said the figures are alarming and has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate Dr. Fernando Mendez Villamil and other top prescribers.
The letter from Senator Grassley does not mention Fernando Mendez-Villamil by name, but it cites documents from the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration about a prescriber who wrote 96,685 prescriptions for from the last quarter of 2007 through the first quarter of 2009 for Medicaid patients. Mendez-Villamil wrote nearly twice as many prescriptions for psychiatric drugs as the No. 2 Medicaid prescriber in the state.