CMS Must Ensure Data Is Reliable for Patients, Physicians

For immediate release:
Aug. 8, 2011

WASHINGTON - Ensuring public reports on Medicare and private payer data are valid, reliable and actionable is critical, the American Medical Association (AMA) and 81 physician organizations told the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today in comments submitted on the proposed rule on Medicare data for performance measurement. The organizations applauded the inclusion of safeguards that protect patients and physicians in the rule, but noted several critical issues must be resolved for physician measurement and public reporting to be effective. 

"The release of accurate data provides an opportunity to inform patients and physicians and to advance the quality of care in the Medicare program," said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, M.D. "CMS has included critical safeguards in this proposed rule, but further action is needed to ensure the information is reliable and the process is equitable."

In the comment letter, the organizations called on CMS to ensure physicians have the opportunity to review their data for accuracy and to appeal any errors before their information is made public. The AMA also urged CMS to standardize the process for developing the public reports and the type of information they will include, not only across the Medicare system but for private insurance data as well.

"Just as the release of reliable information can be helpful for patients and physicians, the release of incorrect information could harm patients and the entire Medicare system," Dr. Carmel said. "The reports should compare apples to apples - using the same data from both private insurers and Medicare - and allow a full review and appeals process before publication, to provide the most accurate information."

The comment letter provides detailed recommendations to CMS on additional safeguards and ways to standardize the data collection to assist in developing meaningful, actionable reports.

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Contact:

Heather Lasher Todd
AMA Media Relations
202-789-7430
[email protected]

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