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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Charles Lane Is Right: Medicare Should Not Protect Doctors

Charles Lane Is Right: Medicare Should Not Protect Doctors

Tuesday, 15 January 2013 09:30

Charles Lane is on the money in his column today. There is no good reason for Medicare not to make public the procedures for which it is reimbursing doctors.

While most doctors are honest, many are not. If a doctor is carrying through an expensive procedure far more frequently than his peers, then people are right to be asking questions. This is not just an issue of ripping off Medicare, it is also a question of bad medicine. No one should ever be put through an unnecessary medical procedure to line a doctor's pockets.

Comments (4)Add Comment
hey fusion is great!
written by pete, January 15, 2013 9:27
Just had C5-C7 fused, pain from left arm completely gone. Spot on diagnosis and treatment. Simple recovery...If medicare is underpaying so that docs need supplements from manufacturers so what. Plus I don't see how we would ever get that info. Plus if a doctor is good, probably they will do more, through word of mouth, etc.
written by jamzo, January 15, 2013 9:45
1) a single federal judge has the power to issue and injunction that prevents public disclosure of medicare information and the injunction has been in place since 1979?

2) the fee is for a service....the guiding philosophy should be that information regarding public funded fees for medical services should be freely available...who wants to be protected and what do they fear?
written by liberal, January 15, 2013 2:14
pete wrote,
hey fusion is great!

AFAICT the claim that we waste tens of billions of dollars on spinal fusion is about lumbar s.f.

Plus if a doctor is good

The problem is that it's difficult to determine whether a doctor is genuinely good. And you have to ask, "Good compared to what?"
written by jennifer, January 16, 2013 7:44
One of the biggest problems in health care is the lack of transparency in costs. One of the Republicans/right wing favorite methods of health care reform are various programs such as individual health care accounts that promote "skin in the game" i.e. the idea that if people had to pay more themselves for health care they would help drive down costs. Although I do not think they are efficient for other reasons these programs have been rendered impotent by the the fact that it is almost impossible to "shop" for health care. Not just doctors's costs but the costs of most major services any hosptial or clinic provides are not available for public knowledge. In spite of all the talk of controlling health care costs I have not noticed any change in this situation--have you ever seen a health care advertisement suggesting you come there because it is the cheapest? The fact that this could even be an issue, knowing the price of a service, doctor or otherwise illustrates how much health care differs from any other commodity and why the remedies need to be different. But there is no reason we can't know the costs and the free market people should be demanding it.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.