June 12,2014

Press Contact:

Ken Willis (Wyden): 202-224-4515
Jill Gerber (Grassley): 202-224-6522

Wyden and Grassley Seek Next Steps on Health Care Transparency

WASHINGTON – Building on their work to make Medicare cost and quality data more transparent, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and senior Finance Committee member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, are asking providers, patients, advocates, insurers, entrepreneurs and others for new ideas for improving overall transparency in health care.

“Health care-related data, specifically, is a growing but largely untapped resource for accelerating improvements in health care quality and value,” the letter states. “This data has great potential for use by consumers who can be empowered to choose providers that best fit their specific needs; by providers who can improve and deliver higher-quality care; and by payers who can design the most efficient and effective delivery models.”

The letter, sent to a broad spectrum of health care stakeholders, asks for input on how to make health care data more useful and readily available. The letter asks that comments from stakeholders and the public be submitted by e-mail to data@finance.senate.gov before August 12, 2014.

Wyden and Grassley previously introduced the Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act (Medicare DATA Act) to make the Medicare claims database available to the public online at no cost.

Since the introduction of the legislation, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken steps on its own to open the payment database to the public. CMS has released over 9 million rows of data on more than 880,000 physicians and other providers. The data release includes number of services, average submitted charges, average allowed amount, average Medicare payment, and a count of unique beneficiaries treated. The data has allowed the public to gain a better understanding how physicians practice in the Medicare program.

The letter to stakeholders can be found here.