Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Health Law News: WSJ sues to open Medicare Database
The Wall Street Journal (1/26, Adams) reports Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida to overturn an over three-decades old ban on public access to a confidential Medicare database. In 1979, the American Medical Association successfully sued the US government to keep secret how much Medicare money individual physicians receive. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said the agency would not comment while the lawsuit is being reviewed.
The AP (1/26) adds that AMA President Dr. Cecil Wilson "said that members of the public could draw misleading conclusions from the data if it is released, given its complexity and 'significant limitations.'" Physicians who "provide care to Medicare patients are already subject to widespread governmental oversight," Dr. Wilson said in a statement. He also pointed out that "federal agencies and contractors have access to the full range of Medicare data and are aggressively ferreting out improper claims."
(reprinted from the American Health Lawyers Association Members' News Service)