Ethical implications of public disclosure of Medicare payments to individual physicians
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In the spring of 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in response to a court decision and the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, began to publicly disclose the amounts and reasons for Medicare payments to individual physicians. The disclosures have attracted broad interest in the news media and shone a bright light on patterns of physician billing and utilization that were previously hidden from public view. The disclosures, however, have also raised questions about what the data means, how useful they will be to patients, and how the data can best be used to improve the quality and values of medical care. This grand rounds will discuss salient examples from the first year of the new policy that highlight the ethical implications of the public disclosure of physician payment data.