WSJ sues for release of Medicare provider data

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

If successful, a legal move by The Wall Street Journal could open a flood of now-confidential Medicare data about providers to the public and journalists.

The filing, by parent Dow Jones & Company, seeks to overturn an injunction that “prevents the public from knowing how much taxpayer money individual doctors receive from the Medicare program,” according to a press release.supreme-court

The Journal has been running a series of stories about Medicare data, showing that the federal government isn’t taking advantage of the data it has to detect fraud. To report the series, the paper and the Center for Public Integrity obtained the data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services but is barred from using the identities of individual providers.

Information about doctors in the Medicare claims database is kept confidential as a result of a lawsuit brought by the American Medical Association more than 30 years ago.

A press kit about the suit includes statements from reporters Maurice Tamman and Mark Schoofs and editor Michael Allen, as well as documents in the case and links to the WSJ series.

For more information, see “WSJ explains why Medicare data is hidden and “WSJ exposes flaws of Medicare’s pay now, investigate later culture.

Update

The board of directors of the Association of Health Care Journalists has released this statement:

AHCJ strongly supports the release of Medicare payment data that can help journalists better cover both the quality of care provided to patients and the finances of this critical government program. Publicly available information should include physician names connected to these payments. We see little reason why information on payments to doctors should be subjected to greater secrecy than payments to hospitals and nursing homes. The Wall Street Journal‘s coverage demonstrates that data linked to doctors would help inform the public and likely would expose fraud and abuse in the program.

4 thoughts on “WSJ sues for release of Medicare provider data

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention WSJ sues for release of Medicare provider data : Covering Health -- Topsy.com

  2. Doctor

    I’m a doctor. As a patient, I have been subjected to at least 25 years of health care fraud and medical malpractice. My sister was similarly poorly cared for by the health care system. Payments for the fraudulent and often dangerous care for both of us have been through BCBS, John Hancock, Medicaid, Medicare and personal funds. There were no investigations and only one person went to federal prison for fraud.

    The health care system is in failure and has been for a long time. That’s one reason why it’s so expensive. Let’s see all the data, not just the Medicare information.

  3. Pingback: Effort to make Medicare data public advances : Covering Health

  4. Pingback: Senators join fight to open Medicare claims data : Covering Health

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