As I reported in January, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal and others are suing to gain detailed access to Medicare billing records through the Freedom of Information Act.
Off-limits to the public since 1979, such data could hold the key to billions of dollars in savings, once journalists armed with modern technology sift through it for evidence of waste, fraud and abuse.
Doctors are fighting the lawsuit, claiming that their taxpayer-funded earnings are none of the public's business.
There's still no ruling in the case, but readers I heard from unanimously backed the Journal. I didn't receive one email supporting the doctors.
What I did get was a flood of first-person testimony about outrageous Medicare bills.
One reader in Northern Virginia told me a supplier to his doctor had billed Medicare almost $230 for a hand brace that retails for $30.99.
Another - Michael April, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation in Montgomery County, Md. - wrote that Medicare reimburses power-wheelchair suppliers between $4,000 and $5,000 for a basic chair that costs the supplier $700 and sells for a retail price of $2,500.
I decided to check these stories with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other sources. What I found was a classic Washington good news-bad news story.
The federal government is addressing some problems that readers noted, with significant results to show for its efforts so far. But the time and political effort it's taken to get to this point does not bode well for future Medicare reforms.
Most reader complaints revolved around inflated reimbursements for wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, beds and diabetes test strips, known in Medicare-speak as "durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies" - DMEPOS.
In fact, as a slew of inspector general and Government Accountability Office reports attest, excessive DMEPOS costs have plagued Medicare for years.
Part of the problem was Medicare's lax screening of suppliers, which attracted hundreds of swindlers to the business. But the real scandal was how much you could charge Medicare legally.
Congress drew up the DMEPOS reimbursement schedule in 1989 based on mid-1980s economics and left it unchanged thereafter, except for sporadic inflation adjustments.
In short, the law required Medicare to overpay.
The obvious solution was competitive bidding. But Washington doesn't do obvious solutions, at least not immediately.
Congress authorized two small five-year pilot projects in 1997. After those ended, it approved wider trials, to begin in 2007, in nine notoriously expensive metropolitan areas.