Release of Medicare Claims Data Is Important
Editor’s note: This is a BIG deal. We have been working for at least ten years through various coalitions and efforts on the Hill to access Medicare claims data that includes physician identifiers. Physicians worry about the impact of understanding how they perform and the outcomes they get when treating patients will have on their business. Privacy concerns related to patient privacy can and has been addressed by de-identifying personal health information (PHI). So it isn’t the patient’s privacy that physicians are trying to protect.
A Democratic senator is expected to push for release of CMS Medicare professional services claims data during floor debate on health reform legislation, a source following the issue said. Consumer advocates and businesses have been trying to get the data for years, but CMS has refused to release such information because of fears it could not overcome a lawsuit from the 1970s and doctors have opposed releasing the data as well, sources say.
It is unclear which senator will introduce the amendment, but sources say the measure will likely have bipartisan support as a similar bill introduced in the past was sponsored by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) and then-senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Plus, groups that support releasing claims data span the political spectrum, including: American Enterprise Institute, which advocates free market policies; the conservative open-government group Judicial Watch; AARP; Business Roundtable; and several consumer groups. The main opponents are physician groups, which are worried about privacy.
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