Eye doctors, cancer specialists top Medicare payment charts in the South Sound

Staff writerApril 10, 2014 

A comprehensive new release of Medicare payment information shows South Sound doctors and medical service providers follow the same patterns evident nationwide: eye surgeons and cancer doctors are at the top of the charts in receiving payments from Medicare.

Those doctors say the fact that a good proportion of their patients are older and that their services in many cases are procedure-intensive account for their high total reimbursement levels in the new rankings. Medicare is the federal program that pays senior citizen medical expenses.

In Pierce County, for instance, a veteran opthalmologist, Dr. Hsushi Yeh, was the top earner in Medicare’s database. According to Medicare, it paid Dr. Yeh $2.8 million in 2012. Second on the Pierce County list was a Puyallup oncologist, Dr. Xinsheng Liao, with Medicare reimbursements of $2.4 million.

In third place was Dr. John Thordsen, a Puyallup eye doctor, with $1.95 million in Medicare payments.

In Thurston County, a cancer specialist, Dr. Joseph Ye, topped the Medicare chart with $2.04 million in payments in 2012. The second-highest Medicare payment recipient in Thurston County, Dr. Linli Xuan, was also an oncologist.

Indeed, the state’s top Medicare payments recipient was a Silverdale eye doctor, Dr. David Spinak, who received more than $3 million in Medicare payments in 2012. Two of his partners at the Retina Center Northwest were also among the top 50 Washington doctors on Medicare’s list of payment recipients.

Dr. Todd Schneiderman, the founder of the Silverdale eye practice, told the Seattle Times opthalmologists’ bills to Medicare are larger than some other medical specialties’ because they often include the high cost drugs used to treat such diseases as macular degeneration.

In Tacoma, Kerri Houser, office manager for Dr. Yeh, said the 66-year-old doctor specializes in repairing detached retinas and treating macular diseases His clientele, she said, is predominantly older because many of the eye issues he treats are age-related.

Yeh, who has practiced in Tacoma since 1979, enjoys high ratings from patients on Internet health sites such as Healthgrades.com, where his patients awarded him an average of 4.5 out of a possible 5 stars.

Houser said Dr. Yeh is often called on to perform emergency eye surgery as MultiCare Allenmore Hospital near his Union Avenue office.

Among medical service providers, Renton’s Natural Molecular Testing Corp. topped the Washington Medicare payments chart with more than $70 million in Medicare payments in 2012. The company provides genetic testing to more precisely determine what drugs will prove most effective in treating an individual patient’s maladies based on their individual natural sensitivities.

More in line with the national pattern, other medical service providers at the top end of the Washington Medicare payment list were medical laboratories,  ambulance companies and medical transport services.

The Medicare payment list with more than 10 million entries for providers nationwide was released this week at the request of The Wall Street Journal, which had originally sought the data years ago. The medical establishment had fought its release contending the numbers would be subject to misinterpretation.

The release of the data Wednesday showed the top 10 doctors on the list nationwide received a total of $121.4 million in Medicare payments in 2012. Nearly half of the top 100 doctors on the list were eye doctors.

The data revealed that more than 4,000 doctors received more than $1 million each in Medicare payments in 2012. Total Medicare payments that year were $64 billion. Of that amount, $8.6 billion covered drug costs. Federal law forbids Medicare from negotiating with drug companies to lower those costs.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663
john.gillie@thenewstribune.com

Pierce County Top 10: Physicians

Physician
last name
Physician
first name
CityTypeTotal
paid by
Medicare
YEHHSUSHITACOMAOphthalmology$2,806,674
LIAOXINSHENGPUYALLUPHematology/Oncology$2,417,267
THORDSENJOHNPUYALLUPOphthalmology$1,953,705
MCCROSKEYROBERTPUYALLUPHematology/Oncology$1,285,047
TRUXALANTHONYTACOMAOphthalmology$1,260,617
NELSONMARKTACOMAOphthalmology$1,234,460
OLIVEIRAMOACYRTACOMAHematology/Oncology$1,228,301
BLAUSIBELPUYALLUPHematology/Oncology$1,202,229
ROSEANDREAPUYALLUPHematology/Oncology$1,145,679
CHAVESJORGETACOMAHematology/Oncology$1,144,743

Pierce County Top 10: Organizations

Organization
name
CityTypeTotal
paid by
Medicare
PIERCE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT 6TACOMAAmbulance Service Supplier$1,396,058
PNW EYE PLLCTACOMAAmbulatory Surgical Center$1,029,103
CASCADE EYE & SKIN CENTERS PCPUYALLUPAmbulatory Surgical Center$1,018,599
PACIFIC CATARACT AND LASER INSTITUTE INC PCTACOMAAmbulatory Surgical Center$994,545
CITY OF TACOMATACOMAAmbulance Service Supplier$887,895
AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE AMBULANCE SERVICE INCTACOMAAmbulance Service Supplier$754,340
PENINSULA RAD ONC CTR LLCGIG HARBORRadiation Therapy$753,364
PIERCE COUNTY FIRE DIST NO 3UNIVERSITY PLACEAmbulance Service Supplier$745,746
HARBOR PLASTIC SURGERY CENTER PLLCGIG HARBORAmbulatory Surgical Center$731,581
WESTERN WASHINGTON ENDOSCOPY CENTERS LLCTACOMAAmbulatory Surgical Center$656,266

Washington State Top 10: Physicians

Physician
last name
Physician
first name
CityTypeTotal
paid by
Medicare
SPINAKDAVIDSILVERDALEOphthalmology$3,010,125
TAIRAALSEATTLERadiation Oncology$3,004,183
YEHHSUSHITACOMAOphthalmology$2,806,674
BRASHEARSJAMESTUKWILARadiation Oncology$2,762,468
LIAOXINSHENGPUYALLUPHematology/Oncology$2,417,267
PEACOCKDEREKKENNEWICKRheumatology$2,416,027
WIRTHLINROBERTSPOKANEOphthalmology$2,386,904
SUNGCHARLESKENNEWICKOphthalmology$2,383,680
SCHNEIDERMANTODDSILVERDALEOphthalmology$2,062,844
YEJOSEPHOLYMPIAHematology/Oncology$2,047,701

Washington State Top 10: Organizations

Organization
name
CityTypeTotal
paid by
Medicare
NATURAL MOLECULAR TESTING CORPORATIONRENTONClinical Laboratory$70,259,786
PATHOLOGY ASSOCIATES MEDICAL LABORATORIES LLCSPOKANEClinical Laboratory$15,407,141
LABORATORY CORPORATION OF AMERICASEATTLEClinical Laboratory$9,226,396
QUEST DIAGNOSTICS CLINICAL LABORATORIES INCSEATTLEClinical Laboratory$7,999,162
AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE AMBULANCE SERVICE INCTUKWILAAmbulance Service Supplier$7,703,352
GENELEX CORPORATIONSEATTLEClinical Laboratory$6,174,318
TRI-MED AMBULANCE LLCKENTAmbulance Service Supplier$4,749,882
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTONSEATTLEAmbulance Service Supplier$4,685,749
AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE AMBULANCE SERVICE INCSPOKANEAmbulance Service Supplier$4,424,540
RURAL/METRO OF GREATER SEATTLE, INC.EVERETTAmbulance Service Supplier$4,238,040

The News Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service