Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Medicare prescription drug cost data available

Data serves as a rich resource for clearer look into Part D costs and services

As part of the Administration’s goals of better, care, smarter spending, and healthier people, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the availability of new, privacy-protected data on Medicare Part D prescription drugs prescribed by physicians and other health care professionals in 2013. This data shows which prescription drugs were prescribed to Medicare Part D beneficiaries by which practitioners.

“This transparency will give patients, researchers, and providers access to information that will help shape the future of our nation’s health for the better,” said acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt. “Beneficiaries’ personal information is not available; however, it’s important for consumers, their providers, researchers, and other stakeholders to know how many prescription drugs are prescribed and how much they cost the health care system, so that they can better understand how the Medicare Part D program delivers care.”

The new data set contains information from over one million distinct health care providers who collectively prescribed approximately $103 billion in prescription drugs and supplies paid under the Part D program.  The data characterizes the individual prescribing patterns of health providers that participate in Medicare Part D for over 3,000 distinct drug products.  For each prescriber and drug, the dataset includes the total number of prescriptions that were dispensed, which include original prescriptions and any refills, and the total drug cost paid by beneficiaries, Part D plans, and other sources.

CMS created the new data set using drug claim information submitted by Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans and stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans.  With this data, it will be possible to conduct a wide array of prescription drug analyses that compare drug use and costs for specific providers, brand versus generic drug prescribing rates, and to make geographic comparisons at the state level.

The Administration has set measurable goals and a timeline to move Medicare toward paying providers based on the quality, rather than the quantity, of care they give patients. This is part of a wide set of initiatives to achieve better care, smarter spending and healthier people through our health care system. Open sharing of data securely, timely and more broadly supports insight and innovation in health care delivery.

Today’s Part D prescriber data availability adds to the unprecedented information previously released on services and procedures provided to Medicare beneficiaries, including hospital charge data on common impatient and outpatient services as well as utilization and payment information for physicians and other healthcare professionals.  In addition, under the Qualified Entity (QE) program, CMS releases Medicare data to approved entities for the purposes of producing public performance reports on physicians, hospitals, and other providers. To date, CMS has certified 11 regional QEs and one national QE.

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