Should Medicare Reimbursement Data be Public?

While the government has been increasing health care data transparencies, physician leaders are split on whether or not data about Medicare payments to physicians should be made public.

While the government has been increasing health care data transparencies, physician leaders are split on whether or not data about Medicare payments to physicians should be made public.

A poll by the American College of Physician Executives revealed that 46% of physician leader respondents don’t think Medicare payments should be made public while 42% said they should and 12% were unsure.

“No matter what your opinion on this subject may be, there’s no doubt the move toward greater transparency in medicine and increased public reporting is here to stay — and we believe it is necessary,” Peter Angood, MD, ACPE’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Recently, a court decision overturned the ruling that the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid couldn’t release information about payments to individual physicians.

Those in favor of keeping the reimbursement information private from the public questioned the purpose of making the data public and wondered if it could be used to unfairly portray physicians in a negative light.

Furthermore, as reimbursement is based on a number of factors, including geographical location, type of procedure and cost of medication, releasing the information would not necessarily benefit budgeting, planning or patient care.

However, those in favor of releasing the data pointed out that people deserve to know how their taxpayer dollars are spent and that, perhaps, fighting to keep the information private would make physicians appear secretive and reduce trust.

“Part of our job as physician leaders is to help ensure that when health care data is presented to the public, it is accurate, fair, meaningful and useful,” Angood said.