June 3, 2011
For additional information:
Deanna Johnson, APR

Council welcomes proposed rule releasing Medicare claims data

Increased provider transparency will allow employers and employees to make informed health care decisions and lower costs

WASHINGTON, DC —With health care reform nearing full implementation in 2014, it is not only logical but essential that the Medicare program set a good example in the field of value-based purchasing — getting the highest quality services for our health care dollar," American Benefits Council President James A. Klein said today. "The proposed regulations issued today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase access to Medicare claims data represent a bold step in favor of health care information transparency."

As the Council outlined in its 2009 Condition Critical health care reform plan, performance information should be easily accessible so employers and consumers can quickly locate health care providers who have a proven record of delivering high quality care. A more transparent system also gives health care providers the tools they need to compare their performance with other professionals in their field and encourages continuous quality improvement. Done right, increased health care transparency promises to be one of the most important building blocks in transforming our health care system to one that rewards the value, not simply the volume, of health care services.

The proposed rules issued today by CMS include important safeguards intended to assure that the information released to evaluate provider performance is accurate and used appropriately, while also safeguarding patient privacy. Claims data from Medicare and private health purchasers would be made available to qualified entities which would aggregate the information and develop profiles of provider performance.

"Full public disclosure of performance results is one of the most important tools Medicare can implement," Klein said. "This information will help Medicare and other purchasers and consumers identify health providers on the basis of reliable information on their performance in the delivery of care, thereby helping to improve quality outcomes and reduce costs across the entire spectrum."

To arrange an interview with Council staff on health care reform policy issues, please contact Deanna Johnson, APR, Council director, membership, at 202-289-6700.

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The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.