A flurry of activity around access to Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) data culminated today with U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and John Thune (R-SD) introducing the Quality Data, Quality Healthcare Act. The standalone bill addresses the Wisconsin Medical Society’s concerns with current law that restricts which organizations can participate in the qualified entity (QE) program, restricts what QEs can do with the Medicare data and restricts the degree to which QEs can support their own data maintenance infrastructures.
“The Society applauds Senators Baldwin and Thune for the introduction of the Quality Data, Quality Healthcare Act,” said Society CEO Rick Abrams. “We find ourselves in the midst of a time of great challenges and of great changes in health care delivery and payment. As we proceed with the exciting transition from a payment system that is driven by volume, to a payment system that will be driven by value, reliable, accurate and comprehensive data will be the key to optimizing our success.”
The bill was introduced eight days after Abrams, Society Chief Medical Officer Tim Bartholow, MD, and Senior Director of Research Cindy Helstad, PhD, met with Senate Finance Committee staff to discuss the importance of including FFS data access in the framework proposal to repeal Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). Since that meeting, though, the Senate Finance Committee announced that it will not mark up its SGR bill until December 12, two days before the House of Representatives recesses.
That makes it less likely that an SGR repeal bill (including changes in access to Medicare FFS data) will be finalized before the end of the year. However, the Society is hoping Congress will pass a short-term patch of up to three months so that the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee can work out final language and the critical “pay-fors,” which have yet to be identified.
The Society and other medical organizations believe that easier access to and use of Medicare data will open the door to improvements in health care quality and patient outcomes while reducing costs “thereby achieving a truly value-based health care delivery and payment system for our nation,” Abrams said.
Back to November 21, 2013 Medigram