One Brooklyn Therapist Makes $4 Million from Medicare in 2012

The government recently made Medicare billing data available to the public for the first time in 35 years. This means you can literally look up how much a healthcare provider made through Medicare patients in 2012 by name. Go ahead, give it a shot with your PCP or physical therapist: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/09/health/medicare-doctor-database.html

With this kind of transparency, it didn't take long for a certain PT clinic in Brooklyn to catch attention as it raked in a whopping $4.1 million under a single healthcare provider ID: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/28/business/one-therapist-4-million-in-2012-medicare-billing.html?_r=1

The title of the article is misleading as there were multiple PTs working in several locations to account for this astronomical number, but after reading the article I had several thoughts/observations:

  • Out of the top 10 PTs who made the most money off Medicare patients in the entire country, half are in Brooklyn. Supposedly Brooklyn is a hotbed of fraudulent billing practices, according to this article.
     

  • I disagree that Medicare is a physical therapy “gold mine” but I understand why such a classification exists. While I support the American Physical Therapy Association’s movement to repeal the proposed Medicare therapy cap, on our end the PTs must be also be responsible and refrain from overbilling procedures. High volume clinics mean less personalized attention and more generic interventions. Quality of care decreases, costs increase, taxpayers lose more money, therapists are overworked, and patients don’t get better. This hurts the profession of physical therapy and puts further financial strain on the US healthcare system. Everyone loses.
     

  • It would be a good idea for Mr. Bakry and other Brooklyn practices to document their treatments very carefully moving forward as I’m sure the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be keeping a very close eye on billing practices in the borough.
     

  • The picture shown in the article (also displayed here) comes from a Google Maps screenshot of Mr. Bakry’s office address taken in October 2013:

There is a chiropractic office under someone else’s name bordered by what appears to be a pediatric medical clinic and another establishment called Your Vitality. Further Google searching shows that the latter is an office whose services include shiatsu, Reiki, swedish massage, hot stone therapy, holistic care, and more. Mr. Bakry claims that he has not treated patients out of this address for years and he appears to be right--there is nothing “physical therapy”-like about the institutions listed. The point here though is that this is how the New York Times and other periodicals often depict physical therapy in the media. The article scrutinizes physical therapy yet puts up a picture of other disciplines and complementary medicine clinics that are anything but. Physical therapy needs to  be re-branded big time--it is more than just an ancillary service billed in a physician office and much, much more than hot stones and Reiki. If you’re in the rehab world, you can search #brandpt on Twitter to explore content related to promoting PT and advocating for the profession. Webpt.com/blog also does a  great job in the rebranding movement.

There is a chiropractic office under someone else’s name bordered by what appears to be a pediatric medical clinic and another establishment called Your Vitality. Further Google searching shows that the latter is an office whose services include shiatsu, Reiki, swedish massage, hot stone therapy, holistic care, and more. Mr. Bakry claims that he has not treated patients out of this address for years and he appears to be right--there is nothing “physical therapy”-like about the institutions listed. The point here though is that this is how the New York Times and other periodicals often depict physical therapy in the media. The article scrutinizes physical therapy yet puts up a picture of other disciplines and complementary medicine clinics that are anything but. Physical therapy needs to  be re-branded big time--it is more than just an ancillary service billed in a physician office and much, much more than hot stones and Reiki. If you’re in the rehab world, you can search #brandpt on Twitter to explore content related to promoting PT and advocating for the profession. Webpt.com/blog also does a  great job in the rebranding movement.