Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made additional Medicare data publicly available and expanded the permissible uses of other data.

For the third consecutive year, CMS released hospital-specific data on inpatient and outpatient charges, Medicare payments, and utilization for common Medicare procedures.  CMS also released similar data on physicians and other suppliers.  Some provider groups expressed concern that the data does not reflect providers’ costs or quality of care.

In what could be a significant shift from prior practice, CMS also announced that it plans to allow “innovators and entrepreneurs” to access certain detailed CMS data.  The data will be accessible through the CMS Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC), which currently houses detailed Medicare and Medicaid data.  In its announcement, CMS suggested that it would permit access to the data even for certain “commercial purposes,” something that has not been allowed to date.  However, it remains unclear what commercial purposes will be permissible and who CMS considers to be the “innovators and entrepreneurs” that may access the data.  CMS will release additional information about the policy in September 2015, and will begin to accept research requests at that time.

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Photo of Paige Jennings Paige Jennings

Paige Jennings is an associate in Covington’s Washington office. She works with the firm’s Federal–State Programs, Health Care, Antitrust, and Litigation practice groups. Ms. Jennings joined the firm after a number of years working on health policy matters in the government and private…

Paige Jennings is an associate in Covington’s Washington office. She works with the firm’s Federal–State Programs, Health Care, Antitrust, and Litigation practice groups. Ms. Jennings joined the firm after a number of years working on health policy matters in the government and private sectors. Prior to earning her law degree and Master of Public Affairs, she worked in the U.S. Senate for over four years, advising Senators John Breaux and Tom Carper on health and social policy matters. Ms. Jennings later handled federal health policy issues at WellPoint, Inc. During law school, she worked with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget during consideration of the Affordable Care Act, and with the Federal Trade Commission for then-Chairman Jon Leibowitz.