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Divided We Fail Supports Legislation to Empower Health Care Consumers

Health Care Costs, Efficiency Addressed In New Senate Bill

For Immediate Release

Contact: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560, media@aarp.org

The Divided We Fail group, made up of AARP, Business Roundtable and SEIU, today endorsed legislation that can help improve health care quality and efficiency, and help bring patients the performance data necessary to make educated decisions about their care.

The bill, The Medicare Quality Enhancement Act, was introduced by Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and would provide Medicare enrollment, claims, and survey and assessment data to private organizations to develop reports that measure health care quality for public use. The reports could include physician-specific data that is essential for identifying high-quality and efficient practice patterns and promoting cost control strategies that improve rather than compromise quality.

"Information is the best tool we have to improve our health care system," said AARP CEO Bill Novelli. "AARP believes providing patients with Medicare data to find the best doctor at a lower cost—and avoid those who are over-charging and under-delivering—is a critical step forward for our health care system. The Medicare information this bill would provide can play a powerful role in unlocking an efficient health care system that works for patients, instead of against them."

"Rising health care costs affect America's workers, consumers, employers and government, inhibiting job creation and hurting our ability to compete in global markets," said Business Roundtable President John Castellani. "Every American has a role to play in improving our health care system by understanding, choosing and managing their own health care needs. This legislation will provide individuals with the vital information they need to do just that."

SEIU President Andy Stern commented, "Despite all of our knowledge and technology, studies suggest that Medicare beneficiaries don't always receive treatments that have been proven effective, and they often get care that is inappropriate or of unproven value. As the largest purchaser of health care, Medicare should use the enormous amount of data it collects to drive quality improvement and better performance from our entire health care system. In short, we need to use this data to create a health care system that is continuously learning and improving."

Under the Medicare Quality Enhancement Act, the private organizations that would mine the Medicare data, known as Medicare Quality Reporting Organizations (MQRO's), would be required to follow strict privacy guidelines. For instance, the MQRO's would be required to allow the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to review their reports to ensure that personal and identifiable data are not divulged.

The bill will be reported to the Senate Finance Committee and AARP, Business Roundtable and SEIU have pledged to work with the committee to strengthen its protections against any potential misuse of Medicare data.

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