Senators Ask Stakeholders To Weigh In on Big Data, Transparency

June 13, 2014 in News

On Thursday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters to about 100 health care stakeholders with a request for input on how big data and data transparency could foster industry reforms and benefit their work, The Hill reports (Viebeck, The Hill, 6/12).

Specifically, Wyden and Grassley urged recipients to think about “what the future of health care data should look like,” adding that they are trying to “pinpoint what’s standing in the way of increasing data access and transparency, while identifying ways that data can be most useful” (Young, CQ HealthBeat, 6/12).

According to The Hill, Wyden has been a vocal proponent for making medical data publicly available and he has hailed the Obama administration’s efforts to release hospital pricing data and Medicare physician payment data.

The lawmakers wrote, “Increased access to data is already giving providers, consumers, payer[s] and others … powerful resources for improving our health care system, and yet significant data gaps continue to exist and limit the full potential.”

The lawmakers asked stakeholders to respond by Aug. 12 (The Hill, 6/12).

Data Can Help Curb Health Care Costs, Wyden Says

Separately, Wyden — during a hosted discussion Thursday on health transparency organized by AARP and the Business Roundtable — said the federal government needs to make better use of medical data to effectively reform health care and curb costs, particularly in Medicare.

He added that the government should seek “to knock down barriers [that are] keeping health care data walled off from the public” and “identify data that we’re not even collecting but should be, all while protecting patient privacy.”

Wyden also said that Congress must work to repeal and reform the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which determines Medicare physician payments. He added that he would like to “take a machete” to the fee-for-service model and link SGR legislation to greater data transparency (CQ HealthBeat, 6/12).

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