Doctors say it’s not their fault the drugs patients want are so expensive.
As the bombshell revelations continue to make headlines following the release of Medicare disbursement data showing that eye specialists have received payments up to $21 million, ophthalmologists have begun to fight back. Of the 100 physicians who receive the largest payments from Medicare, nearly half are eye specialists, according to the New York Times, but most of what Medicare pays them goes to the cost of the drugs they administer to patients in their offices, and the bulk of that money ultimately goes to the drug companies, said Dr. Lisa Bielamowicz, executive director and chief medical officer for research at the Advisory Board Company, a global consulting firm. Dr. John C. Welch, a Nebraska eye specialist who received $9.5 million in Medicare payments in 2012, told the Times that the high reimbursement was the result of treating large volumes of patients and the cost of the injections. The prices of FDA-approved drugs preferred by patients, such as Lucentis, is not the fault of the doctors, he said. “It’s basically a problem created for us by the Medicare system,” he said.