SGR Bill's Payment Transparency Provision Elicits Concern

John Commins, December 19, 2013

At least two physicians groups are expressing concern about a provision to a Senate bill that would repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate formula. The provision calls for the creation of a database that would include all payments made to physicians by Medicare.

Almost lost in the brouhaha over the expected repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula is a provision that would make a physicians' Medicare claims database available to the public online and at no cost.

House and Senate versions of the "doc fix" bill repealing the SGR include language from the Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act (Medicare DATA Act), legislation sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, (R-IA), and Ron Wyden, (D-OR).

The database would include all payments made to physicians by Medicare. Patients' privacy would be fully protected, and providers would have an opportunity to correct payment information before being posted online. Currently, access to the Medicare payment database is limited to government officials and academics despite a federal judge's ruling in favor of greater public access, Grassley and Wyden said in a joint media release.

See Also: SGR Repeal Bill Holds Extra Promise for Rural Hospitals

"Transparency draws in the public and invites analysis of policy and spending," Grassley said. "More transparency has made a difference in accountability in the tax-exempt sector, and it does the same wherever it's applied in healthcare."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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