Appeals Court Rules Against Disclosure of Medicare DataSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Appeals Court Rules Against Disclosure of Medicare Data

4 February 2009 at 11:03:44 AM

Looks like this is going to go back and forth in court. At issue is whether, since tax dollars pay for Medicare, there should be public access to Medicare claims filed by doctors. The first court ruled FOR the group, Consumers Checkbook, the appeals court ruled against. I'll bet this goes all the way to the SCOTU.

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

Robert Krughoff, president of the consumer group, said he was "quite surprised" by the judges' reasoning, since health care costs and the quality of medical services are among the most pressing problems facing the government.

"The majority opinion seems to misunderstand how these data would be used," Krughoff said. "It doesn't accurately portray how the data can be used to monitor the quality of health care provided under the Medicare program." Krughoff said his lawyers are taking a "hard look" at an appeal. The group rates a variety of consumer services, from home repair contractors to cell phone providers.

I also don't think this is a matter of privacy rights for physicians when those physicians are billing the taxpayer. I have heard and I think we all have, of instances of Medicare fraud and being able to see how those things are billed may help to lower the cost of healthcare in general.

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