Leaders of the California Medical Association, who are fighting a ballot measure to increase public accountability for dangerous doctors, received nearly $5 million from taxpayers in Medicare payments, according to data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
A database at the Wall Street Journal website reveals that Medicare paid 34 of the 54 members of the California Medical Association’s Board of Trustees $4,975,807 in 2012, including $212,660 to CMA President Richard Thorp.
“The California Medical Association is standing in the way of public accountability for dangerous doctors by organizing against basic patient safety measures and yet its leaders are taking millions from the very taxpayers they refuse to protect,” said Carmen Balber of Consumer Watchdog.
The California Medical Association and its doctors have given more than $10 million to fight a ballot measure that will increase patient safety and physician accountability in California. The initiative, the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, targets medical negligence, overprescribing and physician substance abuse, all sources of great harm to patients and potential overpayments by Medicare.
Many of the doctors with the worst reputations for patient safety, which the CMA’s political operation are protecting, are also recipients of public money according to the database. “Taxpayers are paying for dangerous medicine and many of these procedures and prescriptions are likely not necessary,” said Balber.
— Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry received $164,758 from Medicare. Dr. Chaudhry is accused of leaving a patient in a vegetative state after he left in the middle of heart surgery to go to lunch. A hospital administrator alleges in a whistleblower lawsuit that leaving patients mid-surgery was a common practice for Chaudhry. The lawsuit also alleges that hospital staff knew that Chaudhry has a substance abuse problem. Chaudhry is one of the five busiest cardiac surgeons in the state, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
— Dr. Van Vu, a pain management specialist who had 17 patients die from overdose deaths according to a Los Angeles Times investigation, received $159,538 from the public. The California Medical Board is taking action to revoke Vu’s license, and Orange County prosecutors are investigating.
These doctor payment facts come in the wake of the recently released 2012 physician payment data by CMS.