New data released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid show some doctors know how to bill the system. One cardiologist in Florida, for example, earned $18 million in Medicare payments in 2012, according to a report by the Washington Post.
For the first time in more than two decades the public can identify how much physicians earn through Medicaid reimbursements. The release follows a ruling last year in federal court in Florida that overturned a 1979 injunction won by the American Medical Associate that made physician-level data secret.
Rebecca Callis, a rheumatologist in
Salem, received $2.7 million in Medicare reimbursements in 2012 – the top
individual payee in the state and one of 15 physicians bringing in more than $1 million from Medicare, according to a WW analysis.
Other top earners in Oregon include ophthalmologist Jeffrey Rinkoff of Medford and oncologist Barry Blyton of Springfield, who both brought in $2.2 million in 2012. Ophthalmologists Michael Lee and Mark Peters, were Portland's top earners, each receiving nearly $1.3 million in Medicare payments.
Here’s how one rheumatologist explained his high revenue to the Washington Post:
Gerald Ho, 50, a rheumatologist who runs three offices in the Los Angeles area, said he had been “sort of dreading” the release of the Medicare payment data. Ho received nearly $5.4 million in reimbursements in 2012. Of that, he said, probably about $5 million covered the cost of genetically-engineered drugs to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis. He also has to pay a staff of 40.
“People are going to see these numbers and people aren’t going to understand,” he said. “I am not pocketing $5.3 million. To tell you the truth, I know there’s been lot of Medicare fraud, and I understand the government wants to provide a measure of transparency. But when they throw out numbers like this without any context, it’s going to be misconstrued by the public.”
The New York Times built this simple search tool for anyone interested in look up doctors by name, specialty or location.