WASHINGTON, April 2 The Obama administration
announced on Wednesday that it will for the first time reveal
how much Medicare pays individual doctors for medical services
and procedures, including MRIs and CT scans.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will
release on April 9 massive amounts of data on more than 880,000
individual doctors and other health professionals in all 50
states who participate in Medicare's Part B fee-for-service
program, which covers physician fees and out-patient services.
The information, which includes doctors' names and addresses
and summaries of their services, had been barred from public
release by court injunction for more than 30 years until last
May when a federal judge in Miami lifted the ban in response to
a motion by Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
The American Medical Association, the flagship lobby group
for doctors, had fought against lifting the injunction. On
Wednesday, it urged the administration to allow doctors to
review and, if needed, correct the information on their
practices before the data is released to the public.
The AMA said in a statement it feared the "broad approach to
releasing physician payment data will mislead the public into
making inappropriate and potentially harmful treatment decisions
and will result in unwarranted bias against physicians that can
Administration officials said they would release the data in
response to multiple requests that have been lodged under the
Freedom of Information Act since the Florida ruling.
The data to be released, which officials described as
nearing 10 million lines of information, will show the number
and type of health services each professional delivered through
Medicare Part B in 2012 and how much the program paid for them.
All told, HHS officials said the data covers 6,000 different
types of services and procedures that cost Medicare a total of
$77 billion. Medicare is projected to spend about $635 billion
in 2014. Medicare covers inpatient hospital stays and
prescription drugs in addition to physician services.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Michele Gershberg,