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Here's another scandal for you: Taxpayers are subsidizing Medicare drug abusers and dealers.

The Government Accountability Office has determined 170,000 Medicare enrollees have been duping doctors and getting away with a wide assortment of painkillers and other narcotics by using their Part D benefits.

One woman cited by the GAO managed get a 150-day supply of oxycodone in 27 days by getting different doctors to write prescriptions and going to different pharmacies. She fooled just about everyone. In a year's time she was able to get 3,655 oxycodone pills from 58 different doctors and 40 different pharmacies.

The woman is an extreme example, but the GAO found that tens of thousands of other Medicare beneficiaries are stealing from their neighbors.

Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware is outraged. He is chairman of the Senate subcommittee that called for the report. "We need to be honest about what these findings mean," he told the subcommittee. "They mean that federal dollars intended to address the health needs of the elderly and the poor are instead being used to feed addictions or to pad the wallets of drug dealers. This is clearly unacceptable."

Sen. Carper has been pressing the federal government to crack down on waste and abuse. He called on Medicare officials to start cracking down on the drug cheats. However, current law does not allow Medicare to restrict access to these drugs.

That should be changed. Histories of prescription data can be tallied to flag possible abuses of the system. Beneficiaries found guilty should be stricken from the program.

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