Physicians Express Fear of Medicare

Article excerpt

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

Administration.

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

system.

"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

practicing medicine in those days. …