Conway challenges Paul to release Medicare billing

candidate unmoved by rival's latest challenge to release data

jcheves@herald-leader.comJune 15, 2010 

Rand Paul, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, refused again Monday to say how much money his medical practice gets from the federal Medicare program, despite a call for transparency by his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Jack Conway.

"Why will you not release your practice's Medicare billing records?" the Conway campaign asked Paul in a news release.

Paul campaign chairman David Adams said the issue is irrelevant.

"Kentuckians might hope Jack Conway would have better things to do than harass a Kentucky doctor for taking care of Medicare patients," Adams said. "But we have to remember that Conway is a huge supporter of ObamaCare who doesn't understand anything but total government control over everyone."

The Conway campaign said Paul, a Bowling Green eye surgeon, has demanded sweeping cuts to most federal programs other than Medicare payments to doctors, which he has defended, making him a hypocrite.

"We certainly feel like it's relevant for a man who has made government spending such a central part of his election campaign to tell the people how much government spending he personally receives," said Conway spokeswoman Allison Haley.

Paul has confirmed that payments from Medicare and Medicaid — two of the largest federal spending programs, providing health care for the elderly and the poor, respectively — make up roughly half of his medical income. But he has refused to say how much money he gets from Medicare.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare, refuses to release the information, saying that a 30-year-old agency policy protects doctors from public disclosure of how much taxpayer money they are paid. That policy has been challenged and upheld in the federal courts.

By contrast, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which administers the Medicaid program on behalf of the federal government, said Paul has been paid $130,461 in Medicaid funds since 2006, about one-third of the sum he billed the program. Doctors' Medicaid billings often are disputed in part, leading to smaller payments than they requested.

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