|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.
|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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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.
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.
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.
'State Of The Heart' Cardiologist Assesses Breakthroughs In Heart Health (Pakistani-American cardiologist Dr. Haider Warraich)
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Breakthroughs in heart medicine, including surgical procedures, devices and medications, have changed how various forms of heart disease are treated and enabled many people to live longer lives. We're going to hear about some of those new developments from Haider Warraich, author of the new book "State Of The Heart: Exploring The History, Science, And Future Of Cardiac Disease." We're also going to talk about cholesterol and blood pressure.
Warraich previously joined us to talk about his book "Modern Death: How Medicine Changed The End Of Life." He's a cardiologist who began his medical training in Pakistan, where he's from, and continued his training in cardiology at Harvard Medical School and Duke University. In September, he joins the faculty of Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School and the Boston VA.
Doctor Haider Warraich, welcome back to FRESH AIR. You write that during the time that you were a medical student, you saw so many changes in heart medicine and technology. Tell us about one that you think is most significant.
HAIDER WARRAICH: When I was a medical resident up at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, this was around the time when a new device had just started to be used in clinical practice that I had really never heard about before. And this was a device called a left ventricular assist device. And really what it is, is it is a mechanical pump that can be sewn directly, right into a patient's heart, and basically takes over the pumping function of the heart. And I know when this program started, there was a specific row in the hospital, in the wards, where these patients would be taken care of. And at least initially, residents were not even allowed to take care of these patients. So they had this aura, this mystery to them.
But the interesting thing about this therapy is that it fundamentally changes so many of the things what we consider to be, you know, the key fundamental principles of being a human being. So, you know, these patients who had these mechanical pumps, you know, they didn't have a pulse. If you performed CPR on them, it could actually do more harm than good. And these patients were basically dependent on their batteries for their life.
So this was such a dramatic departure from really any type of other medical intervention that I'd ever even heard about, which is, you know, part of the reason why I actually pursued this and now I actually specialize in taking care of these patients.
GROSS: Yes, and you describe this device, which is an LVAD - which stands for left ventricular assist device - you describe it as representing the dawn of a new era in human life, the union of man and machine. Because you're totally dependent on the machine, I mean, every second of the day. But really, the idea of, like, no pulse. I can't - it's, like, hard for me to conceive of that.
WARRAICH: I mean, it's hard as a physician. I mean, checking someone's pulse is part of the - you know, one of the sort of purest and oldest rituals in medicine. When you come up to someone, you shake their hands, and you're examining them. And you almost always start by checking the pulse in their wrist. And the other thing that happens in these patients is that if you put a stethoscope to their chest, usually, you'll hear, you know, the gallop of the heart kind of, you know, running away as it has been since, you know, we were in our mothers' womb.
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