Washington Update

Senate Committee Seeks Advice on Better Use of Health Care Data

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The Senate Finance Committee, a key congressional body charged with implementing health care reform, is requesting input to improve health care data transparency from a wide variety of stakeholders. 

In a June 12, 2014 letter sent to providers, patients, advocates, researchers and public health experts, the committee’s chair, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), and its top Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley (IA), noted that “health care-related data, specifically, is a growing but largely untapped resource for accelerating improvements in health care quality and value.” The letter explained that the data could be used by consumers to help them choose providers who best fit their needs, by providers who could use the data to produce higher-quality results and by payers to help them design more effective delivery models.

The letter sought additional information about the type of data sources that should be made more broadly available, how and in what form the data should be conveyed, and what could be done to reduce the amount of fragmentation of health care data.

Sens. Wyden and Grassley previously introduced the Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act (Medicare DATA Act), which they say has offered consumers a range of information about nearly 900,000 physicians and other providers. The data includes the average submitted charge of each provider, the average charge permitted, the average Medicare payment for the same service and the number of individual patients served. 

ADEA members wanting to submit suggestions should send information by email to data@finance.senate.gov before Aug. 12, 2014. All comments will become part of the public record. 

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