Prescription Happy Psychiatrist Alarms Feds
Medicare recently halted payments to a Florida psychiatrist after he prescribed psychiatric drugs at a rate of 150 a day, seven days a week, for nearly two years, while the state’s Medicaid program has turned a blind eye to the physician.
The Miami psychiatrist Fernando Mendez-Villamil reportedly wrote 96,685 prescriptions for mental health drugs in just 21 months.
Mendez-Villamil says he sees dozens of patients daily for 10 minutes each and many patients require multiple prescriptions. The doctor insists he only prescribes as many drugs as a patient medically needs.
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But Mendez-Villamil’s prescribing habits caught the attention of federal and state officials. Recently Medicare — the government health provider for the elderly — stopped paying the doctor’s claims while the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration investigates.
Meanwhile Florida’s Medicaid program, which provides health coverage for people who are poor or who have disabilities, continues to pay claims from Mendez-Villamil. Officials for that program say that the volume of prescriptions alone is not enough to warrant a full-on investigation of the doctor, which would require time that state investigators don’t have, reports The Miami Herald.