As part of the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration's promise to keep the legislation transparent to the public, a large Medicare public data set became available online thanks to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This means that patients, health care companies, journalists as well as practices can see and compare how medical billing and coding worked with Medicare Part B until the end of 2012, including how much physicians and nurse practitioners were paid.

This revelation from CMS didn't come without its own set of controversy, according to MedPage Today, as there was a lengthy legal battle that ensued before this large set of information was allowed to be made public. For instance, the American Medical Association even threatened to file a lawsuit prior to the release, which it opted out of in the last minute.

The media gets a first-hand look at medical billing
News organizations and medical professionals quickly became interested in looking at this data, as it relates to millions of seniors as well as doctors and practices. Some of the the more shocking revelations from the release show that almost 4,000 doctors from across the U.S. received more than $1 million or more from Medicare in 2012 alone. It's important to note that this information doesn't include billing from Medicare Advantage.

Forbes Magazine also pointed out that in 2012, Medicare paid $496 million for chiropractic treatments across the U.S., which the source argues is a stunning number considering chiropractors are not considered medical doctors by many in the health care community.

While certain organizations like the AMA might be less than enthused about this inside glimpse into medical billing services, it seems that the general public is pleased with the decision to release the information. MedPage Today indicated that its latest poll tallied nearly 6,500 votes about whether or not the Medicare data release was a good idea. After looking at the numbers, 56.9 percent of the voters replied "yes" while the remaining 43.1 percent said "no."

Why CMS released the data
Most of the reasoning behind the release of the Medicare data was to give lawmakers, health care companies and other medical professionals an idea of waste and abuse within the program. Apparently, based on the reactions from the media as well as medical organizations, changing future Medicare costs are already a topic of discussion.