New statute allows use of Medicare data base to evaluate doctors
One little noticed aspect of President Obama's health care legislation was a statute expressly allowing use of Medicare data to evaluate the performance of physicians paid by the government for services. Previously, a federal court case had held that the use of such information would violate the doctors' "right to privacy." Legislators from both parties voted to adopt the statute expressly over-turning this holding. On Monday, the government announced that the Medicare data base will be opened to employers, insurance companies and consumer groups, solely for the purpose of identifying the experience and complication rate of physicians. Individual patient records will not be identifiable or accessible.