The recently enacted health reform law has ignited a great deal of public interest in rising health care costs and the underlying reasons for them. Not surprisingly, fraud, waste and abuse in the system is a recurring theme. Although of late the third party insurance companies and "corporate fatcats" have drawn most of the criticism in these cost discussions, at least one recent Wall Street Journal article suggests that abusive billing practices and fraud on the part of the Nation's physicians may be largely to blame. The article states that this information can be gleaned from a Medicare database (The Carrier Standard Analytic File) which shows how much physicians are paid each year by Medicare. The only problem according to the article is that the identies of the physicians in the database are protected from disclosure. This right to privacy has been challenged and upheld in federal court, so there is little reason to believe that the physician information will be made public. Nevertheless, physicians will no doubt be very disturbed by the unflattering light in which this article casts them and should be wary of the direction in which the health care cost discussion appears, at least according to the WSJ article, to be going.
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