ACC President Offers Perspective on Recent Release of Physician Payment Data

On April 9, then Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the release of privacy-protected data on services provided to Medicare Fee-For-Service beneficiaries in 2012 by individual physicians and other healthcare professionals. In the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), ACC President Patrick O'Gara, MD, FACC, provides a perspective External Link on this unprecedented release.

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According to O'Gara, "efforts to make cost considerations transparent are both welcome and laudable," and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) decision to release this data "is a small but somewhat compromised step in that direction." He cautions, however, that limitations to these data must be understood in order to place their meaning in appropriate context with patients and the public. "Above all else, the data release should initiate a conversation between health care providers and patients about their shared responsibility to utilize resources in ways that maximize value," he writes. O'Gara also suggests that use of these data for research and policy setting would be strengthened by efforts to insure their validity and account for patient complexity and risk. "Incorporation of quality measures and health outcomes would form the numerator of the value proposition to which we all aspire," he says.

An additional NEJM perspective External Link by Niall Brennan, MPP, Patrick H. Conway, MD, and Marilyn Tavenner, RN, MHA, notes that "CMS is committed to producing and releasing high-quality data that permit as many users as possible to better understand the Medicare program. The physician data release is part of a broader strategy of data transparency, and we plan to continue to release additional data in the future. We believe that transparency will drive health system improvement."

Keywords: Health Personnel, Insurance Carriers, Privacy, Fee-for-Service Plans, Health Expenditures, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S.

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