HHS posts comparative price data on medical procedures

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services today posted on its Web site what Medicare pays for 30 common elective procedures and other hospital admissions to make health care costs more transparent. As a result, the cost of those treatments should fall, the center expects.

CMS, an agency of the Health and Human Services Department, expects that consumers, providers and payers will make more informed health care decisions with the data.

'As we give consumers better information on how their health care dollars are spent, they will demand more value for their money, and the result will be better treatment at lower costs,' said HHS secretary Mike Leavitt in a statement.

The federal government'the biggest single health care purchaser'hopes that by posting prices and quality data that more insurance companies, hospitals and physicians will do the same, he said.

The information posted at CMS' Web site shows the range of payments by county and the number of cases treated at each hospital for a variety of treatments provided to seniors and people with disabilities in fiscal 2005.

These include common elective procedures such as heart operations, implanting of cardiac defibrillators, hip and knee replacements, and common nonsurgical admissions.

'In all areas of care'hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, health plans, and prescription drugs'we are supporting collaborative efforts that are providing unprecedented information to help people get the best quality care for the best price,' said CMS administrator Mark McClellan.

The department is working with national and local organizations to develop more comprehensive and personalized information on quality and cost. One major initiative involves six pilot projects supported by the Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance, with funding from CMS and HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to provide information to patients and health care providers via collaborative groups in Arizona, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

CMS also reports on 17 quality measures on hospitals, with support from the Hospital Quality Alliance. CMS will expand the hospital information to include information on patient satisfaction and outcomes in the coming year.

In addition to the information posted today, CMS will post payment information for common elective procedures for ambulatory surgery centers later this summer, and common hospital outpatient and physician services this fall.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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