Medicare prescription drug costs surge $10 billion due to opioid overdose crisis

By LES LEE and JOSHUA FERGUSONAPThe nation’s Medicare drug costs surged nearly $10.4 billion in 2016 as the nation’s opioid crisis deepened, a report from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows.

The agency said in a statement on Monday that drugmakers and the government agreed to a plan to pay for at least 1.1 million additional doses of opioids, a program that was part of the Obama administration’s 2016 prescription drug plan.

It will help fill a gap of more than 4 million prescriptions filled over the last two years that have not been filled.

The Medicare drug benefit has risen about $1.8 billion over the past two years, according to the CMS report.

The report is likely to anger the pharmaceutical industry, which has lobbied for years to see more opioid prescriptions filled, including in states where it has strong influence.

It also could anger lawmakers, who are trying to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

The new figures also come as Medicare has been grappling with a growing number of deaths and opioid overdoses.

The total number of people on Medicare has dropped from an estimated 10.6 million in 2011 to 9.2 million in 2016.

The rate of people getting their coverage through Medicaid has declined by nearly 10 percent over the same period, from 16.1 percent in 2011.

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