In 1980, the federal government set forth a policy of not disclosing amounts paid to individual physicians under Medicare.

The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services stated in the Federal Register that, “in considering the two competing interests of public transparency and privacy, the public interest in the Department’s disclosure of the amount that had been paid to individual physicians under the Medicare program was not sufficient to compel disclosure under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.”

Under a new policy that takes effect on March 18, however, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to disclose such data in response to FOI requests.

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