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CMS to Release Physician Payment Data

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 15, 2014

Physicians' associations generally support improving access and transparency in Medicare reimbursement records within the proper context and with privacy protections, but caution that "you can't always use this data as a proxy for quality."

The federal government has issued a new policy for public disclosure of physicians' Medicare payments.

Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said in a statement posted Tuesday by CMS that the modifications, posted in the Federal Register, will improve transparency and accessibility for the public while maintaining the privacy of Medicare beneficiaries.

The policy takes effect 60 days after its publication in the registry, which is expected this week. Blum says CMS will evaluate requests for individual physician payment information or requests for information that combined with other publicly available information that could be used to determine total Medicare payments to a physician on a case-by-case basis.

CMS will also generate and make available aggregate data sets regarding Medicare physician services for public inspection.

"Given the advantages of releasing information on Medicare payment to physicians and the agency's commitment to data transparency, we believe replacing the prior policy with a new policy in which CMS will make case-by-case determinations is the best next step for the agency," Blum wrote.

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