CMS won't have to disclose physician-specific Medicare data

An appeals court has ruled that CMS doesn't have to turn over the physician-specific Medicare claims data requested by not-for-profit advocacy group Consumers' Checkbook under the Freedom of Information Act.

Consumers' Checkbook had said it planned to use the physician-specific data to determine which physicians performed given procedures, identify how much Medicaid paid doctors that had disciplinary histories or poor evaluations, and determine whether doctors were meeting recommended care standards.

In its decision, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concluded that the doctors' privacy interests outweighed the consumer group's contention that the data would be used to serve the public interest. 

The suit originally involved only HHS and Consumers' Checkbook. However, the AMA later joined HHS to appeal a 2007 decision ordering the data to be disclosed.

To learn more about the decision:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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