May 23,2008

Baucus, Grassley Comment on New CMS Rule on Medicare Data-sharing


To: Reporters and Editors

From: Carol Guthrie for Finance Chairman Baucus (D-Mont)
Jill Gerber for Finance Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

Re: New CMS Rule on Medicare data-sharing

Finance Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Grassley commented late today on the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ announcement of a new rule allowing the
sharing of privacy-protected data from the Medicare program for the purposes of research
to better understand trends in health services, to improve quality of care, and to promote
efficiency. Baucus and Grassley have previously introduced legislation to improve the
study of medical treatments – including the effectiveness and safety of drugs – by giving
researchers at federal agencies and university-based and other research organizations
highly controlled access to data on hospital, physician and prescription drug benefits that
are provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

“I’m pleased that CMS is taking steps to safely allow qualified researchers to use
Medicare data for research that will improve the program and the health of the
American public. If knowledge is power, sharing knowledge can help strengthen
our entire health care system, and that’s why I began promoting the idea of safely
sharing Medicare data for research purposes in legislation with Senator Grassley,”

Baucus said. “I will work to make sure that beneficiary information is indeed
protected. I also want to ensure Congressional support and federal oversight
agencies have access to all Medicare data that they need - including data from the
prescription drug benefit - to advise Congress on Medicare and on the usefulness of
this rule. Just like doctors decide treatments, Congress needs to base policy
decisions on the best available information. I will continue to consider legislation on
this issue, to make certain that this data is shared safely, quickly, and in the most
useful manner.”

“CMS’ move will help consumers. The problems with popular diabetes drug
Avandia showed the value of making key data available to experienced and
credentialed researchers,”
Grassley said. “The drug trials that go on before the
Food and Drug Administration approves a drug are no match for the wealth of
information that’s available after a drug is on the market and millions of people
start taking it. This initiative will tap that valuable information on behalf of public
safety and public health while protecting individual privacy and confidentiality. It’s
especially important that CMS insisted that research findings based on this data
must be made available to the public.”

For more information on efforts by Baucus and Grassley to achieve Medicare datasharing
in their legislation (S. 1507 in the 110th Congress), visit