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Executive Summary

OUTPATIENT RX DRUG USE AMONG MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES is collected in an HHS survey of 14,000 households. The study is being conducted by the HHS National Center for Health Statistics Research Office of Intramural Research. Each household was interviewed roughly five times over the course of 18 months, according to HHS staff. Data was collected on what drugs were prescribed and why, who paid for the drugs and how much they cost. The report is not expected to reach the secretary level at HHS before April 15, where it will be approved before being forwarded to Capitol Hill. The department had initially hoped to meet the April 1 deadline for submission to Congress ("The Pink Sheet" March 6, T&G-1). Required by the Catastrophic Care Act, the survey will provide a basis for Congressional Budget Office estimates on the cost of the new Medicare outpatient drug benefit. The full Rx benefit is scheduled to start up in 1991. The study is based on data collected as part of the National Medical Expenditure Survey (NMES), a comprehensive measure of U.S. spending on health care goods and services for calendar year 1987.

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