April 11, 2006

IF THE GOVERNMENT HAS IT THEN IT ISN'T PRIVATE:

Employers Push White House to Disclose Medicare Data (ROBERT PEAR, 4/11/06, NY Times)

The White House is clashing with the nation's largest employers over their request for huge amounts of government data on the cost and quality of health care provided by doctors around the country.

President Bush has repeatedly urged private insurers to disclose such data, saying it will help consumers choose doctors and hospitals. But Medicare, the nation's largest insurer, has turned down a request for its data from the Business Roundtable, whose member companies provide coverage to more than 25 million people.

Employers want to use the data to compare and rate doctors and to rein in soaring health costs — the very purpose advocated by the president. The data would show, for example, which doctors performed the most knee operations with the fewest complications. Employers said they could then compare the average cost per case for different doctors. And they could steer patients — workers, and retirees and their dependents — to doctors who achieved the best results and offered the best value.

"The Medicare data would be a gold mine of information," said Maria M. Ghazal, director of public policy at the Business Roundtable. Medicare handles more than a billion claims a year.

Administration officials said they shared the employers' goals, but were constrained by court rulings that limited the disclosure of data showing Medicare payments to individual doctors, identified by name. Employers disagree, saying those court rulings are no longer relevant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2006 12:57 PM
Comments

This data, like the Barrett report, needs to be hacked, and made public.

It is this kind of hypocrisy that makes regular everyday folk discount the notion that either party or any politician is truly interested in improving the republic.

When the AMA can protect bad doctors, polticians can protect politicians, and teacher's unions can protect bad teachers, and corporations can sough off their debts to the public, why should anyone bother to do anything other than mimmick their behavior?

The self-correcting system OJ has so much faith in appears to be broken. I don't see any self-correcting going on.

Posted by: Bruno at April 11, 2006 1:28 PM

Bruno,

So you noticed the real reason why the Business Roundtable wants this, right? They want to see how Medicare/Medicaid get away with stiffing doctors/hospitals when their contracted insurance cannot?

Hypocrisy? Nope. Just trying to gain comparative advantage.

Posted by: Brad S at April 11, 2006 1:39 PM

Brad,

This is still no reason for the data to be behind a firewall.

Every doctor who is paid directly or indirectly by the taxpayer should have their record on display.

If we label food, we can label doctors, teachers, etc. etc.

Posted by: Bruno at April 11, 2006 1:43 PM

Bruno, I have no problem with the idea that this Medicare information should be released. I also think, however, that the Business Roundtable's insuror contractors also need to show why THEIR costs for healthcare coverage increased.

Hint: It has little or nothing to do with the actual providing of care.

Posted by: Brad S at April 11, 2006 2:05 PM
« D'OH, JOE (via Kevin Whited & Pepys): | Main | THEY WON'T BE LESS TAKEN FOR GRANTED IF THE GOP GIVES UP ON THEM: »