HHS forced to release physician Medicare data

In a decision that could have major implications for the transparency movement, HHS will be forced to release Medicare claims data for physicians practicing in Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. District Court for D.C. The case was brought by to two organizations, Consumers CHECKBOOK and the Center for the Study of Services, which hope to use the data to analyze physician performance.

HHS argued releasing the data would violate physician privacy, but the court rejected that argument, noting Medicare claims constitute only a portion of physicians' incomes.  (The AMA hasn't weighed in yet on how it feels about this ruling.) Under the terms of the decision, HHS must release the data by Sept. 21 for online and public use. The groups involved have requested similar data for the other 46 states.

To find out more about the case:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report article

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