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Medicare may release physician pay data

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may give out information about the amount of money it pays individual physicians.

CMS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), talks about the policy change in a notice set to appear in the Federal Register Friday. The policy would take effect 60 days after the official publication date.

In the past, CMS would not provide information about individual Medicare physician pay in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Now, officials say in the notice, a district court has vacated an injunction that once prevented federal agencies from disclosing individually identifiable Medicare physician pay information.

CMS asked for comments on physician pay FOIA requests in August 2013.

The HHS secretary has considered the court decision and decided that CMS will make case-by-case decisions on FOIA requests for physician pay information, officials say.

“As the outcome of the balancing test will depend on the circumstances, the outcomes of these analyses may vary depending on the facts of each case,” officials say. “However, in all cases, we are committed to protecting the privacy of Medicare beneficiaries.”

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