Revenue Cycle

Medicare data won't be released

Patient Access Weekly Advisor, February 4, 2009

A consumer group aims to monitor quality of Medicare billing and get rid of waste. But an appeals court won’t let them – for now, the Associated Press reports.

A federal appeals court on January 30 overturned the decision to allow the nonprofit Consumers' Checkbook access to medical billing records under the federal Freedom of Information Act. HHS and the AMA appealed the initial 2007 ruling, and a three-judge panel, in a split decision, reversed the decision.

"The requested data does not serve any (freedom-of-information-related) public interest in disclosure," Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson wrote for the majority, the Associated Press reports. "Accordingly, we need not balance the nonexistent public interest against every physician's substantial privacy interest in the Medicare payments he receives."

"The majority opinion seems to misunderstand how these data would be used," Robert Krughoff, president of the consumer group, told the Associated Press. "It doesn't accurately portray how the data can be used to monitor the quality of healthcare provided under the Medicare program."

Read the full Associated Press story on


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