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Urologists ranked in the top 25% of all specialties for highest average Medicare payments in 2012, according to controversial data released recently by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Urologists ranked in the top 25% of all specialties for highest average Medicare payments in 2012, according to controversial data released recently by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The new data set has information for over 880,000 distinct health care providers who collectively received $77 billion in Medicare payments in 2012 under the Medicare Part B Fee-For-Service program, according to a CMS press release. The data show payment and submitted charges, or bills, for services and procedures provided to Medicare beneficiaries by provider. The information also allows comparisons by physician, specialty, location, the types of medical service and procedures delivered, and Medicare payment.
Urology ranked 15th on a list of a 84 specialties for average pay in 2012, with average payments of $157,589. Specialties ahead of urology in average pay included radiation oncology ($362,666), medical oncology ($308,702), and nephrology ($224,657). Hematology/oncology topped the list at $366,677.
CMS said the release of the information was “part of the Obama administration’s work to make our health care system more transparent, affordable, and accountable.”
The way in which the data was released has come under criticism from several physician organizations, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Medical Association.
In a statement, ASCO said it was “deeply concerned” about the release of the data.
“While ASCO strongly supports transparency in health care and sharing information with patients, the data released by Medicare today was issued with no context or explanation about the complexity of the payment system, the value of the services provided, and the needs of patients with cancer,” the organization said.
ASCO went to criticize what it called “extensive inaccuracies in the data for many oncologists.”
“Most of the amounts shown in the Medicare database for oncologists are not, in fact, revenue to oncology practices. Instead, these Medicare payments merely cover the upfront costs of purchasing drugs for patients. Also, the data reflect the high cost of some chemotherapy drugs which further distort the actual practice revenue,” ASCO said.
Separately, the American Medical Association advised reporters to verify claims data before using it in stories.
“Medicare claims data is complex and can be confusing and the manner in which CMS is broadly releasing physician claims data, without context, can lead to inaccuracies, misinterpretations, and false conclusions,” the AMA said.
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