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Ruling allows patients to access new information about doctors

The search for the solution to reaching a better balance between cost and quality of doctors and hospitals has reached an important turning point. A recent court ruling opens consumer access to specific data from the Medicare claims database of doctors. A consumer group sued the Health and Human Services Department asking for the disclosure of this information involving about 40 million patients (who will not be disclosed) and over 700,000 doctors. An appeal of this ruling seems unlikely as one of the Bush administration’s initiatives is to improve price and quality transparency of medical providers. Furthermore, support to open the Medicare database for public access is rising in the Senate. This ruling will allow patients to see how many of a certain type of procedure a doctor has performed successfully and if the tests ordered by doctors are necessary, which will help to reduce the cost of treatment.

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