White House Backs Away From 'Secret Shopper' Survey Of Doctors

Late Tuesday the White House announced it would cancel its plan to study Medicare and Medicaid patients' access to care.

The New York Times: Administration Halts Survey Of Making Doctor Visits
The Obama administration said Tuesday that it had shelved plans for a survey in which "mystery shoppers" posing as patients would call doctors' offices to see how difficult it was to get appointments (Pear, 6/28).

Politico: White House Dumps 'Secret Shopper' Survey Of Doctors
The Obama administration will not move forward on a controversial proposal to have "secret shoppers" pose as patients to investigate how difficult it is for Americans to obtain primary care (Kliff, 6/28).

The Hill: HHS Cancels 'Mystery Shopper' Proposal
The Obama administration late Tuesday announced that it was abandoning a proposal to have "mystery shoppers" try to make doctor's appointments after Republicans and some doctors called it "spying." The proposal was aimed at studying Medicare and Medicaid patients' access to primary care. The proposal has gotten a deluge of criticism since The New York Times reported on it Sunday (Pecquet, 6/28).

Boston Globe: Primary Care Access Survey Canceled
The Obama administration said yesterday that it had shelved plans for a survey in which "mystery shoppers" posing as patients would call doctors' offices to see how difficult it was to get appointments. "We have determined that now is not the time to move forward with this research project," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement yesterday. The decision is an abrupt turnabout. Sunday night, officials at the health department and the White House defended the survey as a way to measure access to primary care, and they insisted that it posed no threat to anyone's privacy (6/29).

Fox News: Obama Administration Pulls The Plug On Stealth Survey Of Doctors
The Obama administration has decided to pull the plug on the so-called mystery shoppers who were going to covertly phone doctors across the country in an effort to gauge shortages in primary care physicians that critics say are linked to the president's health care law. The proposed study was still in the planning stages, but was intended to address what the administration called a "critical public policy problem." First revealed to the public Monday by The New York Times, the mystery shoppers were to call medical practices posing as a patient, then ask about accepted insurance providers and wait times to see a doctor (Dumpe Kenworthy, 6/28). 

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.