Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have introduced legislation that would allow Medicare payments to physicians to be made public.
Grassley, Wyden introduce bill to make doc Medicare payments public
The Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability (DATA) Act would overturn a 1979 court decision that prohibits Medicare from providing public data about its physician billing information.
Grassley's prepared remarks also stated that the bill would call for HHS to develop a "searchable Medicare payment database that the public can access at no cost," as Medicare payments to physicians would no longer have a Freedom of Information Act exemption.
According to the bill, the database would include the amount paid to each provider or supplier, the items or services that were billed to Medicare and the location of the provider or supplier.
Dr. J. James Rohack, immediate past president of the American Medical Association, took issue with the bill. "Releasing Medicare claims data to the public does not help combat Medicare fraud as those tasked with this responsibility already have access to the data," he said in an e-mailed statement. "The AMA supports vigorous efforts by the Department of Justice, the Office of Inspector General and others to identify perpetrators of fraud—the vast majority of whom are not physicians. By calling for the release of physicians' National Provider Identifier number, the bill could increase fraud and put physicians at significant risk of identity theft.
The bill suggests that providers could be identified by their National Provider Identifier numbers, which are public on the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System website.
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