Feds Propose Easy Access to Medicare Performance Data

Qualified researchers would have ready access to a wealth of Medicare performance information, under a proposed rule issued June 8th by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Issued under authority granted by the Affordable Care Act, the proposed rule would cover disclosure of fee-for-service claims information representing services provided by hospitals (inpatient and outpatient), skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies and hospice providers. Researchers could also access Part D drug claims information. Qualified entities would have to submit prototypes of the public reports they intend to issue and would have to meet stringent confidentiality safeguards. Quality measures would have to be vetted by CMS and providers would have to be given the opportunity to comment on draft findings prior to release. The agency is proposing that qualified entities demonstrate access to two other claims data bases, in order to assure that public reports provide a complete picture of a given provider’s performance. CMS estimates that based on past experience, the community-based collaboratives requesting the data would likely seek three years of data for 2.5 million beneficiaries, at an estimated cost of $200,000. While applauding the goals of the proposed rule, some researchers say that figure is too high. Comments on the proposed rule entitled Medicare Program: Availability of Medicare Data for Performance Measurement is due August 8th. For more information, go to www.gpoaccess.gov/fr or contact Colleen Bruce at (410) 786-5529.