44 Central Florida doctors got at least $1 million in Medicare money

Forty-four Central Florida doctors were paid at least $1 million from Medicare in 2012, according to data released by the federal government.

None of them was among the state’s 20 highest-paid providers.

However,two of the nation’s highest paid recipients of Medicare paymentsin the countrywere in Florida — a $20 million eye doctor in West Palm Beach and an $18 million heart doctor in Ocala.
The American Medical Association, which had long fought to suppress the information, was quick to clarify that a high payment doesn’t immediately indicate impropriety. A doctor may receive a lot from Medicare because 90 percent of his practice includes Medicare patients. In group practices, sometimes many doctors bill through one provider’s number.

The real benefit of this new transparency is that it gives consumers and media one more window into where the $77 billion in taxpayer money that Medicare paid to 880,000 U.S. providers actually goes.

One of the many ways the Affordable Care Act has endeavored to bring health-care costs down is through greater transparency. Health-care spending has been notoriously hard to track, and that is slowly changing.

In 2012, 4,269 doctors and other medical practitioners in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties received Medicare part B payments, according to the federal data. Two thirds received less than $100,000, money that also covers overhead.

Consistent with the rest of the country, the local recipients of the highest payments were ophthalmologists and oncologists.

Central Florida’s highest-grossing Medicare doctor was a Mount Dora ophthalmologist, whom Medicare paid $3.3 million. Two oncologists in Tavares and in Altamonte Springs, and a Lake Mary ophthalmologist also received more than $2.5 million.

mjameson@tribune.com or (407) 420-5158. smpowers@tribune.com or (407 )420-5441

Copyright © 2014, Orlando Sentine




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