Wyden, Grassley Push for More Medicare Data Transparency

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are renewing their efforts to make Medicare claims data more accessible to the public. Despite a recent federal ruling affirming that Medicare data should be available to the public (see Florida Medical Association, Inc. v Dept. of Health, Education & Welfare, M.D. Fla., May 31, 2013) and recent federal efforts to make some Medicare payment data publicly available (see “Transparency in health data reveals significant cost differences,” May 8, 2013, and “HHS announces release of new data, contests to expand use of electronic health care data,” June 3, 2013), the senators say that much more needs to be done to make Medicare data more transparent.

Wyden and Grassley plan to re-introduce the “Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act” which they first proposed in 2011 but which died in committee.

The legislation would require HHS to make available to the public Medicare claims and payment data, including data on payments made to any provider of services. The data would have to be provided in a searchable database that the public could access at no cost. The database would include the amount paid to each Medicare provider or supplier; the items or services for which such payment was made; and the location of the provider or supplier. The data would be organized based on the specialty or the type of provider or supplier involved; searchable based on the type of items or services furnished; and include a disclaimer that the data does not reflect on the quality of the items or services furnished or of the provider of services or supplier who furnished the items or services.