According to data obtained by independent non-profit news agency ProPublica, the number of doctors participating in Medicare's drug program who prescribe millions of dollars of medications annually has risen more than tenfold. The drug program, known as Part D, covers more than 41 million seniors and disabled people and in 2015 accounted for over $137 billion in drug spending, which is up from $121 billion just a year earlier. According to Tim Gronniger, deputy chief of staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "The trends in this space are troubling and don't show any signs of abating," who added "It's going to be a pressure point for patients and the program for the foreseeable future." The soaring drug costs are the result of the fact that Medicare picks up most of the cost of drugs once enrollees exceed a certain annual threshold. Beneficiaries over this limit spent $51.3 billion on drugs in 2015, as opposed to just $27.7 billion in 2013. It is also worth noting that in the current system taxpayers account for up to 80 percent of the cost of this so-called catastrophic benefit.
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