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Medicare to release billing data for 880,000 doctors

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WASHINGTON — Patients may soon get an unprecedented look at how their doctors compare to other physicians, after Medicare announced Wednesday it plans to publicly post billing data for more than 880,000 practitioners.

Considered the mother lode of information on doctors, the Medicare claims database has been off-limits to the public for decades, blocked in the courts by physician groups. The American Medical Association has argued that its release would amount to an invasion of doctors’ privacy. Consumer groups, insurers, employers and the news media have sought the information to help them evaluate clinicians.

Wednesday, the Obama administration came down on the side of disclosure.

Medicare Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum said in a letter to the American Medical Association that the agency intends to post the data publicly as early as next week, April 9.

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