Senator Baldwin introduces important Medicare data use bill

In July I published an article in JAMA, co-authored by Don Berwick, regarding the critical need for Medicare data to be available for physicians to use it to improve healthcare outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries.

The crux of the article is based on real experience with massive data sets at the Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO). WHIO has proven that claims data can be aggregated in a HIPPA compliant fashion and that the entire data set can be released to physician groups to compare performance across certain episode treatment groups. Physicians can compare to the competition on resource use and quality and search for benchmarks to improve care.

Wisconsin has teamed up with the Colorado Center for Improving Value in Healthcare (CIVIHC) to legislatively change the Affordable Care Act language so the All Payer Claims Databases can: 1. redisclose data meaning share the data set with physician groups for the purposes of improvement of cost and quality and 2. sell this data to subscribers so as to create a sustainable business model to manage the data infrastructure.

Unfortunately, there has been much disagreement in D.C. regarding these two very clear goals. We don't understand the reasoning because this data release could significantly reduce the cost of the Medicare program while also improving quality based on the results we have seen in the commercial population. Fortunately Senators Baldwin and Thune have embraced allowing Qualified Entities to access Medicare data integrate it with commercial data and share it with the people taking care of patients. We applaud the courage of these two senators and hope others follow their leadership. Our country needs this more than ever now.

Read about the bill.

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