A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would require the publication of individual physician billing activity, reports American Medical News.
A court order has been in effect for more than 30 years prohibiting the publication of such data, but Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, believes making that material transparent could reduce Medicare fraud.
"More transparency about billing and payments increases public understanding of where tax dollars go," Grassley said. "The bad actors might be dissuaded if they knew their actions were subject to the light of day."
Publication has long been opposed by both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Medical Association, and a Florida court case dating back to 1979 has been upheld in the intervening decades.
But a recent report in the Wall Street Journal - which paid the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a large chunk of billing data that covered eight years - uncovered thousands of physicians and other healthcare professionals whose billing patterns would be considered outliers. The newspaper did not name the physicians, citing the court order as explanation.