BRUNSWICK -- Physicians told government health care officials
yesterday they are afraid of being prosecuted for honest
mistakes and that dealing with Medicare is unpleasant at best.
About 60 physicians met at Southeast Georgia Regional Medical
Center with representatives of Georgia Medicare, the U.S.
Attorney's Office and the federal Health Care Finance
Although the health officials expressed surprise at the level
of paranoia expressed by physicians, U.S. Rep Jack Kingston,
R-Ga., who arranged the conference, said it is typical of anyone
dealing with government regulators.
Psychiatrist Andrew Hurayt said he sometimes gets letters
saying he passed an audit of charges he submitted to Medicare,
but the correspondence doesn't allay his fear of the government.
"On a good day, I'm a little paranoid. On a bad day, I'm
frightened," Hurayt said.
He said he believes regulators are promoted if they prosecute
physicians, and said that Congress allows the agencies to write
their own rules.
"Congress needs to police the police," Hurayt said. "When
Congress came down on the IRS, it made me feel so good."
Oncologist Antonio Moran Jr. also spoke of fear suffered by
physicians who believe the government comes down hard on those
who commit honest billing mistakes under a rapidly changing
"We fear Big Brother. We're afraid we're not living by the
rulebook," Moran said.
General practitioner William Hitt said he feels harassed
because he gets inquiries about billings, although he faithfully
reads and complies with all the regulations.
"I was in practice before Medicare," he said. "It was fun…