In The News

In The Hill, Health Care Partner Quoted on Physician-Owned Distributorships

Practices: Health Care

Health care partner Tom Bulleit (Washington, D.C.) was quoted in an April 18 article in The Hill regarding a recent presentation by staff of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) that suggested the commission may be leaning towards advising a more restrictive approach towards physician-owned distributorships of implantable medical devices (PODs).

As described in the presentation, PODs are middlemen that insert themselves into the medical device supply chain and allow the owner physicians to earn a profit on the medical devices they order to implant in their own patients. MedPAC is interested because of the large percentage of implant cases that are performed on the Medicare population. The presentation points out several concerns with PODs, including that they create a conflict-of-interest, do not save Medicare any money, and may be avoiding disclosure under the Physician Payments “Sunshine” Act (CMS’s “Open Payments” program).

Mr. Bulleit explains that as hospitals increasingly adopt policies that restrict or prohibit dealing with PODs, it is important to avoid deterring innovation. He points to the significant role that physician innovators historically have played, and continue to play, in the development of new (especially implantable) medical technologies. For this reason, he suggests that hospital policies restricting or prohibiting purchases from PODs where the physician owners are on the hospital’s medical staff be flexible enough to account for truly disruptive technological advancements.