MSNJ Statement on CMS Release of Physician Payment Data

On April 9, CMS released 2012 Medicare payment data on virtually all physicians to the public.  As recently as January CMS indicated that patient requests under the Freedom of Information Act would be reviewed and released on a case-by-case basis. This massive release is without precedent. The release was done without the opportunity for any opportunity to review the data for accuracy. MSNJ is disappointed that CMS did not allow time for this review which is conventional for other programs that report data. We are also disappointed that the raw data has been released without any context that would inform the public’s evaluation of the data.

MSNJ is in favor of fee and payment transparency. We urge patients to become more familiar with the particular costs that may be included in the reported payments as well as the costs incurred by physicians to provide quality services.  We urge patients not to jump to conclusions about total payments without giving consideration to the type and quantity of services provided. We believe that many patients will be surprised to see how little physicians are reimbursed for many of the services that they provide. Patients with specific questions or concerns about the payment data are encouraged to speak directly with their physician.

Use CMS’ interactive search tool that can help consumers and other stakeholders navigate information about the types of medical services and procedures delivered by physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Members: Read MSNJ’s Practical Pointers on How to Evaluate the Data & Respond to Questions.

View a guidance document on “What Physicians Need to Know About their Public Medicare Payment Data” by Catherine I. Hanson, Of Counsel, Whatley Kallas LLP.

Read nine reasons that the raw data released by CMS may be misleading.

Read how medications paid for and administered by some specialists upwardly skew payment amounts.

Read Wall Street Journal article, “Doctor-Pay Trove Shows Limits of Medicare Billing Data” (April 11, 2014)

About MSNJ

Founded in 1766, the Medical Society of New Jersey is the oldest professional society in the United States. The organization and its dues-paying members are dedicated to a healthy New Jersey, working to ensure the sanctity of the physician–patient relationship. In representing all medical disciplines, MSNJ advocates for the rights of patients and physicians alike, for the delivery of the highest quality medical care. This allows response to the patients’ individual, varied needs, in an ethical and compassionate environment, in order to create a healthy Garden State and healthy citizens.

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