- Associated Press - Saturday, June 3, 2017

MAKOTI, N.D. (AP) - Stanley Maeshiro had been on dialysis for about 17 years, maintaining as active a lifestyle as possible and managing his own medications over the years.

It wasn’t until he was hospitalized in January that his mother, Sharen Maeshiro of Makoti, became aware that he had been stockpiling medicines in the home they shared. She soon discovered why when she attempted to stop the automatic prescription refills after her son was hospitalized in January. The prescriptions just kept coming at a rate faster than her son could ever use them, she said.

After her son’s death in February at age 46, Maeshiro delivered about 50 bottles of expired pills to the hospital for proper disposal. She said last month she still had about 97 bottles to properly dispose of and knows the Minot pharmacy filled additional bottles that she declined to pick up.

The co-pay on her son’s excess prescriptions would have been minimal - as little as a dollar or two, she said. The bulk of the cost would have fallen on Medicare and Medicaid.

“It saddens me to see this happen,” Maeshiro said. “That’s a lot of money out of Social Security and Medicaid that can help other people. How many other people has it happened to? If these companies are going to continue to do this, this is why we have so many people who can’t get help. That bothers me more than anything. It bothers me that so many people are losing out and children are losing out.”

Maeshiro said she spoke multiple times with the pharmacy about slowing the automatic refills but was told by staff that prescriptions were being filled according to orders and they could not change the orders. However, she said the doctor had questioned her son at one point to ask if he had been requesting additional pills because of the frequency at which he was being requested to renew prescriptions. Even after her son’s conversation with his doctor, the prescription frequency didn’t slow, she said.

The manager of the Minot pharmacy told the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/2rgAA5Z ) that Maeshiro took the appropriate corrective action in contacting the pharmacy, which normally would respond by visiting with the physician about an adjustment in the prescription frequency. He had no answer for why that did not happen, but Maeshiro said she was able to get the prescriptions stopped after her son’s death, when she called the pharmacy a final time and, on that occasion, insisted on speaking with the manager.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports abuse of federal health care programs can cost taxpayers billions of dollars and increases the financial strain on the Medicare Trust Fund. Fraudulent billing for unnecessary or excessive services is a problem, but even mistakes can be troublesome and add to costs.

CMS has several strategies and contracts in place to address abuses and provides a variety of educational materials to patients to help them avoid, identify and report suspected fraud or waste.

CMS reminds people to protect their personal information and never share it with anyone who contacts them uninvited. When receiving health services, record the dates and save receipts and statements from providers to check for mistakes. Compare this information with claims Medicare processed to make sure billing is accurate.

Meanwhile, Maeshiro plans to dispose of leftover pills while looking ahead to eventually inter son’s cremated remains at the family plot in a California cemetery.


Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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