Lawmakers call for public disclosure of Medicare payments, ask for input on post-acute reforms

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Sen. Charles Grassley
Sen. Charles Grassley

The battle against Medicare waste, fraud and abuse heated up on Capitol Hill this week. Lawmakers introduced a bill to make Medicare claims and payments publicly available and asked for provider input on post-acute care reforms.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the “Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act” on Wednesday. The bill calls for public disclosure of all Medicare claims and payments via an online database.

Subjecting providers to this type of public scrutiny might “deter some wasteful practices and overbilling,” Grassley said. He also said news organizations and other watchdog entities will be able to identify fraud more easily with greater transparency.

Less controversially, a day later members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to post-acute care stakeholders, posing dozens of questions about how to address Medicare spending.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) signed the letter. American Health Care Association President Mark Parkinson praised this bipartisanship.

“We welcome this opportunity to share our proposals to reduce readmissions and focus payment reforms on patient condition, rather than the location in which care is provided,” Parkinson said.

The lawmakers said there is “substantial variation” in Medicare profit margins for post-acute providers, which they find “troubling.” They asked whether readmissions penalties should be considered for all post-acute providers or for “specific settings,” and also posed questions related to bundled payments, site-neutral payments, quality and assessments. They requested responses by Aug. 19.