Getting rich off Medicare

Every year Congress includes cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors as ways it intends to slash federal government spending.

Every year Congress backs off those cuts right before they are to be implemented for fear that more and more doctors will refuse to take Medicare patients.

It is interesting to note, then, that some physicians appear to be doing very well with current reimbursements. As USA Today reported Wednesday, seven doctors in the United States received over $10 million in reimbursements in 2012. Two thousand doctors received over $2 million.

The average participating doctor received only $87,000 in 2012.

A West Palm Beach ophthalmologist topped all physicians with a staggering $21 million in fees for services from Medicare. An Ocala, Fla., cardiologist received over $18 million.

The story related that the Government Accountability Office is investigating whether physicians with high reimbursements are defrauding the government or submitting incorrect bills.

The GAO suggested that doctors whose claims pass a certain threshold have their claims automatically reviewed. It did not specify the threshold, though.

We would have thought such a review would already be in place but, then, it’s the federal government and money is no object.

At some point, Congress has got to turn its attention to the cost of health care. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to help rein in costs but that was a pipe dream. Hawaii Medical Service Association proposed a 12.8 percent increase Wednesday, blaming the ACA’s fees and regulations for most of the boost.

Putting in place the automatic review of high Medicare billers would be a nice place to start controlling health costs.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.