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Lawmakers Call for Access to Medicare Claims Data

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, June 20, 2013

In his comments to the Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a bill co-sponsor, said the database will help patients in making medical decisions and help taxpayers understand what their tax dollars pay for in the Medicare program. "Why isn't this information already available?" he asked.

The third co-sponsor is Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).

This is the second effort to gain legislative support for the release of Medicare billing and spending data. Sen. Grassley's first effort in 2011 languished in committee, but the emphasis on price transparency and the demand for meaningful data may help it win sufficient support this time around.  

Over the past several weeks the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has broken with precedent and released volumes of pricing data. In May it provided the chargemaster data for the 100 most common Medicare inpatient diagnostic related groups or DRGs. Last week at Datapalooza IV, the fourth annual national conference on health data transparency, CMS released several data bases, including estimates for average charges for 30 types of hospital outpatient procedures.

Researchers, data aggregators, and lawmakers, are clearly eager for more.  

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2 comments on "Lawmakers Call for Access to Medicare Claims Data"


stefani daniels (6/21/2013 at 11:52 AM)
the history of over prescribing and excessive ordering is well known. Claim form information can be viewed as a surrogate measure of resource utilization and much better data than the 'pricing' data recently released. In the hospital setting, the volume of tests, consultants, procedures continues to escalate putting hospitals (which largely get paid a fixed rate) and patients at financial risk (depending upon their insurance). Excessive and non-contributory medical interventions are the last large pool of untapped expenses that can be reined in. The more exposure of physician practice behaviors, the better choices the public can make.

Mary Jo Tomlinson (6/20/2013 at 9:37 AM)
it's called a fee schedule, this information has been available for a long, long time. ...maybe we could try to FIX it..instead of finding ways to make this system more cumbersome..probably to late?