Gail R. Wilensky, PhD
This article was published online first at www.annals.org on 10 June 2014.
Note: Dr. Wilensky is a former administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and a former chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.
Disclosures: Disclosures can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M14-1080.
Requests for Single Reprints: Gail R. Wilensky, PhD, Project HOPE, 7500 Old Georgetown Road, Suite 600, Bethesda, MD 20814; e-mail, email@example.com.
Author Contributions: Final approval of the article: G.R. Wilensky.
Wilensky G.; The Medicare Data Release Conundrum. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161:293-294. doi: 10.7326/M14-1080
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(4):293-294.
As almost every physician in the country is now aware, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published data in early April 2014 that showed detailed information on the $77 billion that 880 000 health care practitioners billed for some 6000 types of Medicare Part B services in 2012 (1). The data release came as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request made by The Wall Street Journal and a court decision that allowed it. The decision reversed an earlier federal court injunction that the American Medical Association had secured 35 years ago preventing the release of Part B Medicare payments made to individual physicians. Rather than respond to each request for the data, such as the one The Wall Street Journal made, the CMS released a public-use data file that contained all of the 2012 information on utilization, payment, and submitted charges by provider identification number, procedure code, and place of service. The CMS redacted data that involved fewer than 11 patients because of patient privacy concerns.
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