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: