Investigative reporters suing CMS for Medicare Advantage data

A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative news organization is again suing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for withholding documents related to its reporting on Medicare Advantage plans.

The Center for Public Integrity filed a lawsuit against the CMS Tuesday to force the agency to release copies of program audits, billing data and the identities of any health plans suspected of overcharging the government under Medicare Advantage.

Fred Schulte, a senior reporter at the CPI, requested the information in May of 2013. While the CMS acknowledges it received the letter in June, the request has since stalled.

“The information about Medicare Advantage that we are asking for should be readily available to the taxpaying public,” said Bill Buzenberg, CPI executive director. “There’s no excuse for ignoring our request.”

In 2009, the CPI and The Wall Street Journal sued the CMS to get Medicare billing records for doctors and hospitals. Their work led to a series of investigative articles that revealed physicians had overbilled Medicaid by at least $11 billion.

The CPI says while Medicare Advantage plans have been popular with the elderly, the industry has also been the target of government audits and other critics who argue the government is overpaying billions of dollars to maintain the program.

It is now conducting its own investigation on Medicare billings and will report on the findings in June. 

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