Some Doctors Still Billing Medicare for the Most Complicated, Expensive Office Visits
By Charles Ornstein and Ryann Grochowski Jones
December 27, 2017
— ExcerptAlso on the list is Dr. Rand Ritchie, a Pismo Beach, California, psychiatrist. He billed 1,475 visits at the highest level, or 97 percent of his Medicare office visits, in 2015. The California medical board has disciplined Ritchie twice for alcohol abuse and multiple convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol. He completed probation most recently in 2014 and currently has an unrestricted license.
Ritchie’s office manager, Darryl Schumacher, who handles billing for the practice, said Ritchie had started accepting Medicare around 2015 because no other psychiatrists in private practice in the area did so. “He was taking on many new patients and the complexity of some of these patients, because they had either gone without treatment for many years or had gone without a psychiatrist, was pretty difficult at the beginning,” Schumacher said.
Schumacher also said that no one from Medicare had contacted the practice to ask about Ritchie’s numbers and that questions from ProPublica were the first indication that his billing pattern was unlike that of his peers. As for his discipline, Schumacher said Ritchie fulfilled the requirements of his probation and is once again board certified in psychiatry.
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