Doctors won’t fight Obama on release of Medicare data

The American Medical Association (AMA) won’t go to court to block the Obama administration’s planned release this week of previously undisclosed Medicare data.

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The AMA remains concerned about the privacy implications for physicians, an official with the organization told The Hill on Tuesday, but it won’t seek a legal injunction to stop the release.

Federal health officials are set to release massive amounts of Medicare data as a way to heighten transparency and discourage waste in the notoriously opaque U.S. healthcare system.

This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will post the services performed and payments received by Medicare physicians in 2012. The initiative is primarily aimed at researchers interested in studying usage trends and will not contain information about specific beneficiaries.

The AMA, the nation’s largest physician trade group, argues that “certain safeguards are necessary to ensure that information is accurate and reliable for patients and other stakeholders.”

“The AMA is concerned that CMS’ broad approach to releasing physician payment data will mislead the public into making inappropriate and potentially harmful treatment decisions and will result in unwarranted bias against physicians that can destroy careers,” the AMA said in a statement. “We have witnessed these inaccuracies in the past.”

The AMA wants doctors to be able to review the information before the release to ensure that it’s accurate.

“Taking an approach that provides no assurances of accuracy of the data or explanations of its limitations will not allow patients to draw meaningful conclusions about the quality of care,” the group said.