Medicare may be overpaying surgeons for many procedures, study finds

Medicare could be paying surgeons for postoperative care that isn't provided, according to a new RAND Corp. analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers with the nonprofit research organization RAND Corp. and Harvard Medical School in Boston reviewed information Medicare began collecting in 2017 from a sample of the nation's surgeons. Data suggests surgeons only provide a small portion of the postoperative care that is built into bundled payments for services, according to the report.

The researchers found if Medicare payments no longer included money for undelivered postoperative care, reimbursements for the procedures would decline by 28 percent, or roughly $2.6 billion in 2018.

The researchers suggested that federal officials should include new methods, like billing claims and EHRs, to objectively measure the amount of postoperative care surgeons deliver instead of relying on physician surveys.

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