April 2 (Bloomberg) — Medicare, the U.S. health plan for the elderly and disabled, for the first time will release data on its payments to individual physicians.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed the American Medical Association in a letter today that the data would be released April 9. It will show payments from the estimated $635 billion program to doctors for their medical services and procedures, as well as where they were performed.

The AMA and other physician associations have fought the release of details about doctors' Medicare payments for more than three decades. Last May, a federal judge lifted a 33-year- old injunction that prohibited the Medicare agency from releasing any payment information that could be used to identify individual physicians, according to Bloomberg BNA.

"Data like these can shine a light on how care is delivered in the Medicare program," Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator for the Medicare agency, said today in a blog post. "They can help consumers compare the services provided and payments received by individual health care providers. Businesses and consumers alike can use these data to drive decision-making and reward quality, cost-effective care."

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