KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

2 Percent Of Medicare Docs Get Quarter Of Total Payouts

Media outlets continue to analyze which doctors receive the largest payments from the government insurance program for the elderly and disabled as they parse the massive database released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Fiscal Times: Medicare By The Numbers
For the first time ever, the public finally caught a glimpse of how the massive Medicare program pays its doctors. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a massive database on Wednesday revealing how Medicare doled out $77 billion to some 880,000 providers in 2012. The data shows that just a sliver of providers -- about 2 percent earned roughly a quarter the overall fees (Ehley, 4/11).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  How Much Does Your Doctor Get From Medicare?
The following database contains newly released Medicare billing data for Missouri and Illinois healthcare providers. Across the U.S. in 2012, Medicare made nearly $80 billion in payments to more than 800,000 providers. Roughly $5 billion of that went to Missouri and Illinois providers. To find the dollar amounts providers received in Medicare reimbursements in total and by type of service, search by the last name of a doctor or care organization, or by specialty or location. In the results page, click "details" for more information about a particular provider (Moskop, 4/10).

The Boston Globe: 30 Mass. Doctors Split Up $45 Million From Medicare
Just 30 Massachusetts physicians -- mostly ophthalmologists, oncologists, and dermatologists -- were paid more than $45 million in a single year by Medicare, according to detailed new data intended to provide consumers, researchers, and fraud investigators with unprecedented information about the practices of individual doctors. These 30 doctors received between $1 million and $3.1 million each in 2012 for treating elderly Medicare recipients. The amounts exclude what they were paid by private insurers and other government programs. More than half of these doctors are ophthalmologists, who accounted for less than 2 percent of providers in the state but received nearly 9 percent of the Medicare payments that year (Kowalczyk and Tran, 4/10).

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia Doctors: Medicare Payments Don’t Tell Whole Story
Two of Atlanta’s top eye specialists found themselves Wednesday on a list of Georgia doctors who received more than $1 million in payments from Medicare in 2012, as did several of the state’s cancer doctors and pain management specialists. The doctors quickly pointed out that the long-awaited release of $77 billion worth of Medicare payment records didn’t tell the whole story, though. Dr. Robert Halpern, an ophthalmologist, said $3 million he was paid for treating Medicare patients was driven largely by the cost of $2,000 injections that are administered repeatedly to stave off blindness among patients with macular degeneration. Halpern said he gets paid about $100 for giving the injection and makes virtually no profit on the medication itself (Teegardin, 4/10).

The Dallas Morning News: 340 Texas Doctors Among Medicare's Millionaires
More than 340 doctors and other care providers in Texas received over $1 million each in 2012 under the government’s Medicare health insurance program, according to data released Wednesday that provides the public its first inside look at physician billing practices. About a fifth, or 69, of those providers practice in Dallas County and four neighboring counties. A Dallas internist took in the second-highest Medicare revenue statewide at $5.1 million — 50 times the average payout for that specialty nationally, according to the data. A Tyler ophthalmologist topped the list of Texas providers with $6.8 million in Medicare payouts, about 20 times the U.S. average (McClure, Moffeit and Lathrop, 4/10).

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