Washington Medicare says it's planning to tighten oversight of opioid drugs prescribed to millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries.
Under a proposal released Thursday, patients would have to consult their doctor and get approval from their drug plan if a new prescription puts them above recommended cumulative dose levels for morphine-like painkillers. Pharmacists could still dispense a 7-day supply of medication.
Medicare will also limit initial prescriptions of opioid drugs for treating pain after surgery or an injury, for example, to a 7-day supply.
The changes are detailed in an annual request for bids to insurers participating in the Medicare program. They would take effect next year.
Another change: Private Medicare Advantage plans would be able to offer coverage for a broader range of home-support services, including portable wheelchair ramps.