The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is going to open up more data on Medicare Physician payments. HHS first put a notice in the federal register saying that it would respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on this data as appropriate. Not all requests will be filled, but the public may soon have greater access to these data.
The government had previously been barred from responding to such requests, however that injunction was lifted last May. Now as the debate over health care payouts unfolds against the backdrop of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this data could shape those conversations. CMS has a blog post up detailing how it plans to handle the requests and what interested readers can expect from the data release.
“Going forward, CMS will evaluate requests for individual physician payment information (or requests for information that combined with other publicly available information could be used to determine total Medicare payments to a physician) on a case-by-case basis. The new policy released today will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. In addition, CMS will generate and make available aggregate data sets regarding Medicare physician services for public consumption,” the blog post reads.
The agency said that the release made sense for both transparency purposes and healthcare providers which are now looking for ways to collaborate on new health cost and payment requirements. Last week, CivSource reported on a move by the state of Maryland to modernize its physician payment models – state officials there hope that work will serve as a national template. CMS backed the Maryland plan, and was present during an announcement made by the Governor and local officials.
CMS has already released data sets on health price transparency, which will further the efforts in some states to publish that information locally in an effort to help patients make more educated healthcare choices.