Physicians Are Talking: Medicare Payments Go Public

Providers Express Anger, Concern Over the Release of Payment Data

Marrecca Fiore


April 09, 2014

In This Article

Providers Express Anger, Concern

It is not surprising that publicizing Medicare provider earnings has been met with disdain by clinicians and the organizations that represent them. Medscape members commenting on recent coverage of this effort say the release of payment data is a violation of privacy and could lead to bias against certain physicians. Many also believe that it might confuse patients and lead them to make inappropriate decisions about their medical care.

"What other profession has the government dictating what we get paid, and then goes further to have individual reimbursement made public?" asked one internal medicine physician. "This is an infringement on our privacy and a distraction from the [mission to] take care of patients."

Another Medscape member, an ophthalmologist, said that he is considering dropping Medicare patients because of the release of these data.

"The entire reason for this is a concerted effort to vilify doctors in this country," he said. "That is the government strategy to bring down their expenditures. Just don't pay the doctors anything because it's all their fault."

"This is what happens when you get paid by the government," said an anesthesiologist.

"It's never a good idea -- there are always strings attached," she added.

In an emailed statement from its president and CEO, the Medical Group Management Association, a Colorado-based organization that represents more than 33,000 medical practice administrators and executives, said it is "troubled" about the potential consequences from the release of the data.

"This release could result in patients making decisions about their care based on faulty assumptions about physicians. Claims data are not a proxy for quality, especially when provided in isolation from a single payer," said Susan Turney, MD, MS, in her statement.

"Physicians should have had the opportunity to review the data before it was made publicly available in order to modify or appeal any inaccuracies," she added.


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