Orthopedic and Spine Leader to Know: Dr. Ezriel Kornel of Brain & Spine Surgeons of New York

Rachel Fields -   Print  |
Ezriel Kornel, MD, principal of Brain & Spine Surgeons of New York, has been on the forefront of minimally invasive neurosurgery for the last 20 years. In a recent interview with Becker's Orthopedic & Spine Review, he talked about one of his more unusual moves: the decision to opt out of Medicare five years ago.

The struggle with Medicare reimbursements continues to provide obstacles for surgeons across the country. As Dr. Kornel points out, Medicare often pays well under a surgeon's contest —– in his example, $500 for a lumbar discectomy when the procedure costs the surgeon almost $2,000.

He said he has avoided losing patients simply by providing quality care. "Medicare patients make up 20 percent of my patient base and there was some concern that referrals from some physicians might end —– that they would stop sending me any more patients or at least not send me any more Medicare patients," he said. "Neither of those things turned out to be the case. Referring physicians keep sending me every kind of patient. I think it's worked because those patients have not gone back to their primary care physician and said they were dissatisfied with me."

He predicted that after the 21.3 percent Medicare cut goes into effect in December and the current temporary fee fix runs out, more physicians will opt out of Medicare. "It will reach a point when it just becomes ridiculous," he said.

Dr. Kornel has become an expert in minimally invasive endoscopic surgery of the spine, as well as minimally invasive approaches in the surgical treatment of brain tumors. He was one of the first neurosurgeons in the New York metropolitan area to replace damaged cervical discs with newly introduced artificial discs. He also uses the Gamma Knife for the treatment of brain tumors and trigeminal neuralgia when appropriate.

Dr. Kornel completed his neurosurgery residency at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., under one of the most renowned neurosurgeons in the world, Hugo Rizzoli, MD.  

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