Feds release doctor-specific payment data

The federal government is weighing requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to disclose Medicare payment and performance data for doctors, Medscape reported. Since these data show how many patients an individual doctor saw and what the government paid for their care, the data may expose potential fraud and overutilization. Previously, the government held that releasing these data violated practitioners' privacy rights; but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began individually considering FOIA requests for information on individual doctors after a federal judge ruled public interest in this outweighed doctors' privacy rights. Ethical questions arose about uses of this physician-identifiable reimbursement data by competitors, investigative reporters and malpractice attorneys, Medscape noted. Article (subscription required)