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By Joe Eaton and David Donald, The Center for Public Integrity 

Second in a series

Judging by their bills, it would appear that elderly patients treated in the emergency room at Baylor Medical Center in Irving, Texas, are among the sickest in the country — far sicker than patients at most other hospitals.

In 2008, the hospital billed Medicare for the two most expensive levels of care for eight of every 10 patients it treated and released from its emergency room — almost twice the national average, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis. Among those claims, 64 percent of the total were for the most expensive level of care.

But the charges may have more to do with billing practices than sicker patients.

By Fred Schulte and David Donald, The Center for Public Integrity 

First in a series

Thousands of doctors and other medical professionals have steadily billed higher rates for treating elderly patients on Medicare over the last decade — adding $11 billion or more to their fees and signaling a possible rise in medical billing abuse, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity has found.

By Fred Schulte, The Center for Public Integrity

HHS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Photo: Matt Bisanz/Wikimedia Commons

Thousands of doctors across the country are billing Medicare for routine medical care at rates far above their peers, potentially costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in overcharges, according to a new government report.

The audit released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General stopped short of accusing the high-billing doctors of ripping off the government health plan for the elderly. But it stated that Medicare’s payment scales for doctors have been “vulnerable to fraud and abuse” in recent years.