Slammed for Millions in AIDS Back-billing
LAUDERDALE (AP) - Some Florida doctors who treat people with AIDS are being
billed by Medicare for treatments the program hasnít covered for four years.
Medicare officials decided in 1996 to stop paying for globulin injections
for adult HIV patients, saying that studies didnít prove the substance,
which is in short supply, worked for adults.
Despite the ruling, doctors
across the country kept prescribing it and getting reimbursed for it. But
in June, Medicare began ordering a few dozen AIDS doctors, mainly in South
Florida, to repay an estimated $10 million for past globulin treatments.
One doctor in Miami was back-billed for $1 million. No action has been
taken elsewhere in the country, and some doctors believe Florida physicians
have been singled out as a national test case. A dose of immune globulin,
which some physicians believe can strengthen a personís immune system,
lasts about a month and costs $2,000.
One Fort Lauderdale AIDS
patient who could not get the globulin contracted pneumonia and has been
in intensive care for a week. ďThis man is on a ventilator and it probably
could have been avoidable,Ē said his doctor, Peter Engelhard, who has been
told to repay $425,000 he collected for prescribing globulin.
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