Today, 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 to review the data for accuracy. MSNJ is disappointed that CMS did not allow time for this review which is conventional for other CMS 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.