KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Some Doctors Bill Medicare Far More Often For Unusual Procedures

Elsewhere, a former editor of a prominent medical journal says many or most doctors have had conflicts of interest that could harm patients. And, doctors look for new ways to thrive -- or survive -- economically.

The Wall Street Journal: Taxpayers Face Big Medicare Tab For Unusual Doctor Billings
The government data show that out of the thousands of cardiology providers who treated Medicare patients in 2012, just 239 billed for the procedure, and they used it on fewer than 5 percent of their patients on average. The 141 cardiologists at the Cleveland Clinic, renowned for heart care, performed it on just six patients last year. Dr. Weaver's clinic administered it to 99.5 percent of his Medicare patients -- 615 in all -- billing the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled 16,619 times, according to the data (Carreyou, Stewart and Barry, 6/9).

MinnPost:  Shining Light On Physician Conflicts Of Interest
“Many, if not most physicians practicing today have, or have had, conflicts of interest that clearly to do not result in their patients’ best interest,” charges Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in an op-ed article in the June issue of the Milbank Quarterly. And those conflicts of interest -- which DeAngelis defines as “a conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of an individual in a position of trust” -- have become rampant over the past two decades or so, she says, as pharmaceutical companies merged their marketing and scientific divisions (Perry, 6/9).

Miami Herald: Doctors’ Dilemma:  Physicians Weigh Ways To Thrive Economically -- And Sometimes To Survive 
It’s getting harder to be a doctor. Gone are the days of Marcus Welby, when a doctor focused solely on treating the sick, assured that bountiful compensation would follow. Today, physicians are as much business people as healers, hamstrung by rising staffing and technology costs, increased paperwork demands by the government, stratospheric malpractice premiums and limited reimbursements from muscle-flexing insurance companies (Madigan, 6/8).

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