Effort to control "kickbacks" to doctors
New Jersey's highly political U.S. Attorney, Christopher Christie, recently changed the focus of his investigation from the manufacturers of orthopaedic devices, to the doctors who are paid to endorse or install them. His goal is to shed light on the significant "kickbacks" paid to some orthopaedic surgeons in return for using a particular company's product.
Recently, the New Jersey D.A. signed deals with four of the major orthopaedic device manufacturers. The deals promise a dismissal of criminal charges in September, in return for the payment of more than 300 million dollars in fines and the companies' acceptance of close monitoring of payments to doctors. Christie argued that the very complicated arrangements through which bone doctors are paid consulting fees result in increased health care costs and the compromise of individual patient-care decisions.
One of the spokesmen who agreed to respond to the claims, Dr. Thomas Coon from Red Bluff, California, was paid more than $150,000.00 by the Zimmer Company in 2007, before payments were stopped by the company in October. He also received about $6,000.00 in various travel and meal expenses. Coons declined to confirm what he was owed by the Zimmer Company and claimed "A lot of this has been irresponsible..." We agree with the good doctor; but probably for different reasons.