Grassley, Wyden team up to publish physician data

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 18, 2011

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Two key senators have unveiled a bipartisan bill that would release certain physician Medicare pay data to the public.

Sens. Charles Grassley (R, Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D, Ore.) introduced the Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act on April 7.

Grassley had offered a similar proposal in a measure aimed against health care fraud in March. Wyden at the time said he was working on his own version, but the lawmakers decided to join forces.

The Medicare DATA Act would require the Dept. of Health and Human Services to launch a searchable online Medicare database available at no cost to the public. The information would not list identifiable patient information but would indicate what individual doctors billed Medicare.

"Shedding light on Medicare claims will be helpful to those making medical decisions, offer insight into how Medicare dollars are being spent and prevent wasteful spending and fraud," Wyden said.

The American Medical Association, along with others in organized medicine, oppose such releases of raw physician data. The physician groups say it amounts to a violation of physician privacy.

Sharing pay data between government agencies is the most effective way to battle fraud, the AMA and other groups said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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