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Medicare News

Medicare Lifts Lid on Health Care Provider Data to Help Groups Make Better Choices

Health care law will allow consumer groups, others to compare options, find best value

Dec. 5, 2011 Medicare has lifted the lid on tons of information gathered from the health care providers that take care of about 47 million senior citizens and disabled. It is now available to consumer groups, employers and other qualified organizations to be used to help them make better choices and recommendations about health care providers.

The final rule making the data available was made possible by the Affordable Care Act and was announced today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The rule provides access to data that can help organizations identify high quality health care providers or create online tools to help consumers make educated health care choices, according to CMS.

 

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Information that could identify specific patients, however, will not be publicly released and strong penalties will be in place for any misuse of data.

"This is a giant step forward in making our health care system more transparent and promoting increased competition, accountability, quality and lower costs," said Marilyn Tavenner, Acting CMS Administrator.

"This provision of the health care law will ensure consumers have the access they deserve to information that will help them receive the highest quality care at the best value for their dollar."

For years, employers, consumers, and health care quality advocates have expressed frustration about the limited and piecemeal availability of Medicare data that could be used to help evaluate health care provider or supplier performance.

Although many health plans have created provider and supplier performance reports, these reports are based solely on the health plans' own claims, and do not reflect information from other health plans, including Medicare.

Providers, too, have expressed frustration at receiving performance reports that are piecemeal and produced without an opportunity for review and correction.

This final rule creates a framework for providers to receive a single, actionable performance report covering all or most of their practice.

It also makes a number of important changes from the original proposed rule, for example, it makes this data less costly for qualified entities, gives qualified organizations more flexibility in their use of Medicare data to create performance reports for consumers, and extends the time period for health care providers to confidentially review and appeal performance reports before they become public.

The rule also includes strict privacy and security requirements to protect patients, health care providers, and suppliers as well as stringent penalties for any misuse of Medicare data.

The final rule on Availability of Medicare Data for Performance Measurement is on display until Dec. 7, 2011 at the Office of the Federal Register at: http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2011-31232_PI.pdf

 

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