Appeals Court Rejects Disclosure Of Medicare Data

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

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Monday, February 2, 2009

A federal appeals court has rejected a consumer group's bid to use Medicare billing records to rate individual doctors.

The case is being closely watched by employers, insurers and consumer advocates. It is seen as an important battle in the effort to remake the nation's health care system to provide higher quality service and waste less.

Medicare billing records — encompassing virtually every doctor's office — are the mother lode of health care data. Experts analyzing them can identify waste or poor quality care.

The nonprofit Consumers' Checkbook group had won a lower court decision to release the records. But a federal appeals court in Washington overturned it late Friday, saying doctors' privacy would be violated.

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