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Physical therapy has become Medicare gold mine

A few miles from the Coney Island boardwalk in Brooklyn stands an outpost of what, on paper, is a giant of American medicine.

Nothing about the place hints at the money that is said to flow there. But in 2012, according to federal data, $4.1 million from Medicare coursed through the office in a modest white house on Ocean Avenue.

In all, the practice treated around 1,950 Medicare patients that year. On average, it was paid by Medicare for 94 separate procedures for each one. That works out to about 183,000 treatments a year, 500 a day, 21 an hour.

What makes those figures more remarkable, and raises eyebrows among medical experts, is that judging by Medicare billing records, one person did it all. His name is Wael Bakry, and he is not some A-list cardiologist, oncologist or internist. He is a physical therapist.

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