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U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Thwarts Access to Morbidity/Mortality Findings

Posted by Andrew J. Barovick | Feb 05, 2009 | 0 Comments

The consumerist group, Consumers' Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services won its lawsuit in 2007 forcing the Dept. of Health and Human Services to release Medicare claims data which would have allowed researchers to determine the frequency with which physicians in several states performed certain procedures, and what results were achieved, according to today's Medical News Today .  The information would have helped health insurers evaluate physician quality, and would have allowed consumers to make better-informed decisions on which physicians to use, since the information was to have been posted on the internet for public viewing.

But, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed that decision (of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia) last week, finding that the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) had been improperly utilized below.  “Accordingly,” wrote Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, “ we need not balance the nonexistent public interest against every physician's substantial privacy interest in the Medicare payments he receives.

I guess Judge Henderson hadn't bothered checking in with me before writing her decision.  Maybe next time.

About the Author

Andrew J. Barovick

Mr. Barovick is a graduate of Columbia College and Cardozo School of Law. He began his legal career at the Queens District Attorney’s Office, where he tried over 20 felonies to verdict, and argued an equal number of appeals before the Appellate Division, Second Department, the New York Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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