Federal Judge Lifts Ban On Medicare Releasing Individual Doctor Data

A federal judge has lifted the ban on Medicare releasing data on individual doctors to the public. The end on the 33-year ban -- after the publishers of The Wall Street Journal sued to end it -- could mean closer scrutiny of doctor practices in the program.

The Wall Street Journal: Judge Ends 33-Year Injunction That Shielded Medicare Data On Doctors
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 (Carreyrou, 5/31).

Reuters: Federal Judge Lifts Ban On Public Access To Medicare Data
A federal judge lifted a 33-year-old injunction barring public access to a confidential database of Medicare insurance claims, a decision that could lead to greater scrutiny of how physicians treat patients and charge for their services. Judge Marcia Morales Howard ruled Friday in favor of a motion by Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, that the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida lift an injunction imposed in 1979 (Tamman, 5/31).

In other news --

Medpage Today: Report: Medicare Gets Doc Info Wrong
Medicare provider information in two separate databases was inaccurate most of the time and generally inconsistent between the two, compromising the program's ability to detect fraud and abuse, a government watchdog found. Data in at least one field were inaccurate in 48 percent of inspected records in the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) and in 58 percent of inspected records in the Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS), according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Moreover, provider data were inconsistent between NPPES and PECOS 97 percent of the time, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) didn't verify most provider information, the watchdog agency said in a report released Thursday (Pittman, 5/31).

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