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Some doctors make millions off of Medicare

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MedicareSome doctors are making millions of dollars off of Medicare, with a handful collecting multi-million payments annually.

One ophthalmologist from West Palm Beach, Fla., collected nearly $21 million, while a cardiologist from Ocala, Fla., received $18 million in 2012. Seven doctors pulled in more than $10 million in payments, while nearly 4,000 are Medicare millionaires.

The doctors' payments were part of an unprecedented data release, which covers 880,000 physicians, therapists, labs and other medical facilities. Medicare paid providers a total of $77 billion in 2012 to care for more than 50 million of the nation's elderly and disabled, according to federal statistics released Wednesday. These figures do not include what doctors collect from patients in co-pays or from private insurers for non-Medicare patients.

The data release marks the first time the government has made public detailed information on the services and procedures provided to Medicare patients by individual doctors. It also shows what health care professionals billed the government and what they were paid.

A small share of doctors account for a large percentage of payments. The top 2% of physicians collected nearly a quarter of Medicare payments. Ophthalmologists, cardiologists and blood cancer doctors were the most represented among this group, both in terms of numbers and payments from Medicare.

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