Cancer docs made $275 million on bunk study


Cancer doctors received about $275 million from the federal government and the elderly last year as part of a yearlong research project that many doctors believe won’t produce any useful findings.

Under the program, the federal government paid $130 each time a chemotherapy provider assessed a Medicare patient’s pain, fatigue and nausea. The payments were designed to encourage doctors to report information that might one day lead to improved care for cancer patients.

In a report to be released Wednesday, the inspector general for the Health and Human Services Department cast doubt on whether the money was well spent. He questioned the integrity of the data that doctors submitted.

“We identified numerous anomalies and gaps in the data and collection methods,” said the report from Inspector General Daniel Levinson.

Levinson concluded the report by calling the data “unreliable.”

While the federal government will foot the bill for most of the unreliable data, senior citizens and disabled Americans on Medicare paid, too. That’s because they were charged $26 each time their doctors billed Medicare for submitting information about their side effects.

Doctors, meanwhile, made tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars off the program.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said taxpayers and beneficiaries were “bilked” because they paid for services that physicians are already supposed to provide.

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