This has been kicking around out there for quite a while and when the lawsuit was filed, things were a little different then too.  Medicare didn’t have some of their new technologies in place yet with using software audits to find fraud yet, but now they do.  When you think about it, what is the consumer going to do with this?  As I read below it appears it might be on a case by case situation which is probably what it should be if there is “really” a need to have the information from Medicare about a doctor.  We all know as technology moves forward, what was important yesterday, might be over shadowed by something else today.  So it appears you might be able to see how much your doctor gets paid from Medicare, but at this point as a consumer, who cares!  We are too busy with other items at hand with our own care, insurance literature and so forth.  So is this a big deal, not really.

Dow Jones Files Lawsuit Against HHS To Overturn Ruling To Keep Medicare Physician Compensation Confidential In the False Name of Transparency-Distraction is More Like It

As the case was initially filed, journalists might have more of an interest than consumers.  Think of it, what would you “really” do with a dollar number with what your doctor gets paid from Medicare, probably not much.  Since this time we also have the “Most Wanted” list out there for fraud and they just caught one yesterday.

One of the Medicare “Most Wanted” Arrested In Los Angeles

We live in an age where the use of the word “transparency” calls more more data to be available which is fine, but we come back around to the same old word “value” and today consumers have to pick and choose their “data” needs wisely and not get distracted because someone else says this is the “greatest thing since sliced bread” if you will.  We see all kinds of studies and reports that tell you that you”just have to have this data” and of course every individual is different. 

What’s more important today is “what gets covered” for consumers and what their doctor gets from Medicare is truly a back seat piece of information.  Again I see where by handling on a case by case situation this could be ok, but to roll it out there on a web site to search, well we end up with more data that few consumers will use but may have more value in reality to the press. So what?  Again, when this lawsuit initiated for the access, things were a lot different so it’s lost it’s punch I feel and again maybe more information out there but where’s real value for the consumer in being information “they really need”.  The issues with Medicare are really in Washington and there are some very good things being done to fight fraud and digital literacy of law makers is more or less a much bigger and pressing issue with healthcare today than this. 

Senators Letter to HHS Regarding Fraud Reform Tools–Oddest Thing I Have Read in a Long Time and Really Makes A Huge Case for Reinstating the Office of Technology Assessment!

If this helps the press on news, then so be it, but don’t get distracted in thinking that this is something you as a consumer absolutely “has” to know…marketing at it’s best and the big guys at the AMA and Wall Street Journal can continue to duke it out I guess:)  BD

Medicaid Fraud–With Numbers This Good Using Anti Fraud Analytics To Help Identify Patterns, Maybe Some Cheating Obsessions Might Lighten Up A Little

A federal judge vacated a 33-year-old injunction that had barred the government from releasing Medicare information on individual doctors to the public.

Dow Jones & Co., The Wall Street Journal's parent company, challenged the injunction in 2011 after the Journal published a series of articles showing how the information could be used to expose fraud and abuse in the $549 billion health-care program for the elderly and disabled.

In a ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard said this was no longer the case, citing case law that had narrowed the scope of the Privacy Act over the ensuing three decades and no longer supported such a broad injunction.

The ruling doesn't mean doctor-specific Medicare data will immediately become public. The AMA, which continues to oppose such releases, may decide to appeal the ruling. "Medicine has stood its ground during the last 34 years to defend an injunction that favored individual rights and protected innocent physicians from becoming targets of suspicion. The American Medical Association is considering its options on how best to continue to defend the personal privacy interests of all physicians," said AMA President-elect Ardis Dee Hoven.

Whether or not the AMA appeals, the Journal and other news organizations will have to file Freedom of Information Act requests to gain access to the data. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare, could still decide to deny requests on a case-by-case basis. A government spokeswoman declined to comment.


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