"In this case, since physician information is covered by the Privacy Act, we look at whether such disclosure may constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy by weighing whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the physician's privacy interest in the information," CMS said.
"It is important to note that CMS is not considering public disclosure of any information that could directly or indirectly reveal patient-identifiable information. CMS is committed to protecting the privacy of Medicare beneficiaries."
CMS noted that the move toward greater transparency has gained considerable momentum in the 33 years since the injunction was put in place, driven by the substantial growth in the size of Medicare both in total cost and as a portion of the federal budget, and by public outcry over the fraud, abuse and waste in the program.
In addition, the Affordable Care Act allows CMS to provide Medicare claims data to some entities for the production of publicly available performance reviews.
"Since 2010, CMS has released an unprecedented amount of aggregated data in machine-readable form," CMS said. "These data range from previously unpublished statistics on Medicare spending, utilization, and quality at the state, hospital referral region, and county level, to detailed information on the quality performance of hospitals, nursing homes, and other providers.
In May 2013, CMS released information on the average charges for the 100 most common inpatient services at more than 3,000 hospitals nationwide, followed in June with the release of average charges for 30 selected outpatient procedures."