Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pakistani-American Doctor is the Second Highest Medicare Biller

Dr. Asad Qamar, a graduate of Lahore's King Edwards Medical College, received $18.2 million in payments from US Medicare program in 2012, making him the second highest billing doctor in America. Dr. Qamar is a member of APPNA, Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent in North America. He was a candidate for the presidency of APPNA in 2013.

Asad Qamar M.D.

Dr. Qamar, a Pakistani-American cardiologist, and his family have given at least $300,000 to politicians and political causes in the 2012 election cycle and in 2013, according to contribution disclosure records reported by Reuters. Dr. Asish Pal, a Florida-based Indian-American, is the second highest billing cardiologist in America. Dr. Pal was paid $4.5 million by Medicare.

Dr. Qamar has been subjected to lengthy reviews of his billing practices by US Department of Health and Human Services. He has complained to President Obama and other officials that the contractors conducting the reviews for the HHS were slow and unresponsive. Dr. Qamar told New York Times that his payments were high because his practice, which has 150 employees and a caseload of 23,000 patients, routinely handles complicated procedures like opening blocked arteries in the legs of older patients, which normally would be billed by a hospital.

Only Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida Ophthalmologist, billed Medicare for a larger amount than Dr. Qamar did in 2012. Dr. Melgen, too, is a major contributor to Democratic party. Dr. Melgen’s firm donated more than $700,000 to Majority PAC, a super PAC run by former aides to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. The super PAC then spent $600,000 to help re-elect Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who is a close friend of Dr. Melgen’s. Last year, Mr. Menendez himself became a target of investigation after the senator intervened on behalf of Dr. Melgen with federal officials and took flights on his private jet, according to The Times story.

Top Medicare Billers. Source: Washington Post

The top 1% of 825,000 individual medical doctors accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in billing recorded in the data. There is a pattern of of large Medicare payments and six-figure political donations among several of the doctors whose payment records were released for the first time this week by the Department of Health and Human Services in response to a lawsuit filed The Wall Street Journal. Health-care economists say the data—despite several limitations—could help identify doctors who perform far more surgeries, procedures and other services than their peers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

President Barack Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act ( also known as Obamacare) is aimed at achieving universal health care coverage for all Americans. However, as the name indicates, it is also an attempt to make such coverage more affordable, a goal that will remain elusive unless waste, fraud and abuse are brought under control.

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Singh said...

Don't mean to belittle the good doc's achievements but the most successful doctors refuse to see medicare patients because they don't pay as much as private insurers.(There is a limit on how many patients a single doctor can see per week in US).

So medicare patients end up with other docs who are not as money-minded (or as successful)

Don't mean to troll, just putting the facts out there for people to see.

Kudos to the doc.

Riaz Haq said...

Singh: "Don't mean to belittle the good doc's achievements but the most successful doctors refuse to see medicare patients because they don't pay as much as private insurers.(There is a limit on how many patients a single doctor can see per week in US)."

You are confusing Medicare with Medicaid.

Doctors love Medicare. It pays well for all the elderly people above 65 years.

825,000 US physicians, nearly 100% of physicians in America, accept Medicare and bill to Medicare. That should clear up any misunderstanding.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is for the poor, and it does not pay doctors well.

Taher Ata said...

With recent cuts in Medicare, effective Jan 1st 2015, doctors who don't do much procedures like family physicians, internists doing primary care etc, are penalized with low payments, disproportionately. This will cause future medicl students to avoid primary care residencies and move more towards above mentioned specialities of cardiology, ophthalmology and pathology etc. No incentives for doctors to go into primary care positions where the reimbursements were already low and predictive extreme shortage to provide care to aging population.