Are Doctors Getting Rich Off Medicare Reimbursements?

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One of Barack Obama’s campaign promises in the 2008 election was that his administration would be the most transparent in U.S. history. The intended result was an open government. “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government,” according to a White House memorandum devoted to the issue of transparency.

The Obama administration has still garnered criticism from conservative opponents that his presidency has been anything but transparent. In late 2009, just months before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, John Boehner, then the House minority leader, told constituents that top liberal lawmakers were about to “hammer out a final government takeover of health care bill behind closed doors with President Obama.”

The debate over the transparency of the Obama administration — which has undoubtedly been complicated by the passage of the healthcare reform — is by no means over. But at the same time, it is impossible to ignore that certain steps taken by the president have shined a light on the inner workings of the American healthcare system. Without a White House directive, how the Medicare system reimburses doctors and other service providers would be completely hidden from the public.

In fact, data released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provided the first look at Medicare payments to physicians in more than three decades. Specifically, the CMS figures “include information for the 100 most common inpatient services, 30 common outpatient services, and all physician and other supplier procedures and services performed on 11 or more Medicare beneficiaries.”

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