Medicare Released Data on Texas Doctors Pay
Texas doctors who treat Medicare patients earned a combined $4.6 billion from the federal insurer of the elderly in 2012, with the state’s ophthalmologists and oncologists raking in the most, according to detailed data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The massive data set, which was released last week, casts light for the first time on the money Texas doctors make for treating the state’s more than 3 million Medicare beneficiaries. It lists names of physicians, the cities in which they practice, the type and number of health care services they provided and the average charges for particular services, among other details.
The data show that 342 Texas doctors were each paid more than $1 million by Medicare in 2012. The 20 doctors paid the most by Medicare that year — from a Tyler ophthalmologist who received $6.8 million to a rheumatologist from the same city who was paid $3.1 million — earned a combined $79.5 million from the federal program that year.
Federal officials touted the release of the data as a step toward increased transparency in Medicare. But it was met with anxiety by health care professionals and medical associations that had fought the disclosure in court for decades until a federal court ruled last year that the information should be public.
Opponents have argued that the data could be misleading because the total payments to doctors could be interpreted as physicians’ take-home pay. They argue it doesn’t reveal what physicians and medical practices apply to their overhead costs, including drug treatments with hefty price tags and staff salaries.