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
Pierce County Top 10: Physicians
Pierce County Top 10: Organizations
|PIERCE COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT 6||TACOMA||Ambulance Service Supplier||$1,396,058|
|PNW EYE PLLC||TACOMA||Ambulatory Surgical Center||$1,029,103|
|CASCADE EYE & SKIN CENTERS PC||PUYALLUP||Ambulatory Surgical Center||$1,018,599|
|PACIFIC CATARACT AND LASER INSTITUTE INC PC||TACOMA||Ambulatory Surgical Center||$994,545|
|CITY OF TACOMA||TACOMA||Ambulance Service Supplier||$887,895|
|AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE AMBULANCE SERVICE INC||TACOMA||Ambulance Service Supplier||$754,340|
|PENINSULA RAD ONC CTR LLC||GIG HARBOR||Radiation Therapy||$753,364|
|PIERCE COUNTY FIRE DIST NO 3||UNIVERSITY PLACE||Ambulance Service Supplier||$745,746|
|HARBOR PLASTIC SURGERY CENTER PLLC||GIG HARBOR||Ambulatory Surgical Center||$731,581|
|WESTERN WASHINGTON ENDOSCOPY CENTERS LLC||TACOMA||Ambulatory Surgical Center||$656,266|
Washington State Top 10: Physicians
Washington State Top 10: Organizations
|NATURAL MOLECULAR TESTING CORPORATION||RENTON||Clinical Laboratory||$70,259,786|
|PATHOLOGY ASSOCIATES MEDICAL LABORATORIES LLC||SPOKANE||Clinical Laboratory||$15,407,141|
|LABORATORY CORPORATION OF AMERICA||SEATTLE||Clinical Laboratory||$9,226,396|
|QUEST DIAGNOSTICS CLINICAL LABORATORIES INC||SEATTLE||Clinical Laboratory||$7,999,162|
|AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE AMBULANCE SERVICE INC||TUKWILA||Ambulance Service Supplier||$7,703,352|
|GENELEX CORPORATION||SEATTLE||Clinical Laboratory||$6,174,318|
|TRI-MED AMBULANCE LLC||KENT||Ambulance Service Supplier||$4,749,882|
|UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON||SEATTLE||Ambulance Service Supplier||$4,685,749|
|AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE AMBULANCE SERVICE INC||SPOKANE||Ambulance Service Supplier||$4,424,540|
|RURAL/METRO OF GREATER SEATTLE, INC.||EVERETT||Ambulance Service Supplier||$4,238,040|