Who Said Federal Agencies Aren’t Nimble?!

Working on a health data project? Think federal transparency is cool? Chris Haffer, Director of the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey Program reminds us that a health-data-geek’s best friend is still the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- Deb Linton

A strong source of data to support Health 2.0 efforts is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS. There are over 40 Million covered lives in Medicare alone. An agency that was once the Fort Knox of health data has fully embraced Todd Parks’ “Data Liberacion!” movement.

In fact in just the last 8 months CMS has released NINE public use files from claims data. Most recently (announced Health 2.0′s San Francisco Code-a-thon) a Chronic Conditions File containing 55 variables with information on 100% of Medicare enrollees in 2008.

These files are available on healthdata.gov. CMS is also supporting the Medicare Claims Data Developer Challenge. And last but certainly not least - under new legal authority granted by the Affordable Care Act - organizations specializing in claims-based performance measurement may be able to obtain longitudinal, linkable, Medicare claims data for all services and supplies provided under Parts A, B, and D. The “Qualified Entity” program is scheduled to kickoff on Jan 1 st. Please see the ACA Section 10332 or the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register for more details.

All of this action in less than 12 months! Who said federal agencies aren’t nimble?!

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