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How a Secretive Panel of Doctors Helps Set Health Care Costs

A Washington Post story by investigative reporters Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating has drawn plenty of attention to a little-known committee of doctors that establishes values for each medical procedure, which in turn affects how much Medicare and private insurers pay for them.

Continuing Promise 2011The American Medical Association committee meets once a year behind closed doors to determine the time and intensity of most of the procedures and services a doctor performs – like colonoscopies (75 minutes of a doctor’s time, the committee says). But in fact, Whoriskey and Keating write, “the AMA’s estimates of the time involved in many procedures are exaggerated, sometimes by as much as 100 percent, according to an analysis of doctors’ time, as well as interviews and reviews of medical journals.”

Looking at the time that the panel said was needed for each procedure and the number of procedures performed by each doctor, the Post found some doctors would be working more than 24 hours a day.

Here’s what people are saying about the system:

 

Photo: U.S. Navy via Flickr

 

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