On August 6, 2013, CMS released a request for public comment on how the agency can promote greater transparency regarding physician-specific Medicare payment information. CMS is seeking input on the following specific issues:
Whether physicians have a privacy interest in information concerning payments they receive from Medicare and, if so, how to properly weigh the balance between that privacy interest and the public interest in disclosure of Medicare payment information, including physician-identifiable reimbursement data;
- What specific policies CMS should consider with respect to disclosure of individual physician payment data that will further the goals of improving the quality and value of care, enhancing access and availability of CMS data, increasing transparency in government, and reducing fraud, waste, and abuse within CMS programs; and
- The form in which CMS should release information about individual physician payment, should CMS choose to release it (e.g., line item claim details, aggregated data at the individual physician level).
The request stems from a May 31, 2013 Florida federal district court decision that lifted a previous injunction prohibiting CMS from disclosing annual Medicare reimbursement payments to individual physicians. CMS notes that it is not considering public disclosure of any information that could directly or indirectly reveal patient-identifiable information. CMS will accept comments on this issue until September 5, 2013. A related CMS blog post is available here.