In the third round of what's now an annual event, the CMS posted a huge data set that breaks down the $91 billion Medicare has paid individual physicians, diagnostic labs, ambulance services and other companies.
And for the first time, the agency included a set of numbers that exclude adjustments for regional factors like wages. The addition of standardized figures is intended to make the variation in payments reflect “physicians' practice patterns and beneficiaries' ability and willingness to obtain care,” the CMS said in a news release. The latest round reflects 2014 claims.
Florida, with its large senior population, had 27 clinicians among the 100 providers that collected the most Medicare Part B payments in the nation, according to a preliminary analysis by Modern Healthcare.
Internists collected more total payments from Medicare Part B in 2014—$9.2 billion—than clinicians in any other specialty. Diagnostic radiologists served the largest number of beneficiaries, receiving $3.7 billion.
Ophthalmologists collected the second-highest total payments, at $6.3 billion. But that figure was significantly lower—$4.2 billion—after subtracting what the government paid for drugs administered in physician offices. Ophthalmologists administer some of the most expensive drugs in healthcare, and Medicare drug reimbursements to the eye specialists increased 8.6% to $1.9 billion in 2014 compared with 2013.
Comparing the 2014 data to Part B payments in 2013 appears to reveal changes in practice patterns—or at least raises questions. For example, total payments to nurse practitioners were up nearly 19% at $1.7 billion.
Total Medicare Part B spending was up about 1% over 2013.