CMS Creates New Office To Oversee Information Products, Data Analysis – Good Info to know…

On Tuesday, CMS announced that it has established a new office — called Office of Information Products and Data Analytics (OIPDA) — to oversee the agency’s data and information.

CMS made the announcement at its Health Datapalooza in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by HHS, the Institute of Medicine and other members of the Health Data Consortium.

OIPDA will take over management of the agency’s data portfolio. CMS currently processes more than 1.3 billion claims annually and collects data on the meaningful use incentive program. OIPDA also will oversee data related to the federal health reform law’s health insurance exchanges, which will launch in 2014 (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 6/5).

In an HHS release, the agency said the new office “will help guide the agency’s evolution from a fee-for-service-based payer to a ‘value-based purchaser of care’ that links payments to quality and efficiency of care, rather than sheer volume of services.”

OIPDA’s Responsibilities

OIPDA will oversee CMS’ current data operations, including:

Managing the “Chronic Condition Warehouse”;
Administering and producing Medicare current beneficiary surveys to track changes; and
Overseeing the Research Data Assistance Center.

As part of the new data initiative, CMS also announced the release of several new data tools. According to a CMS fact sheet, OIPDA will oversee several “new information products,” including:

A set of five billion Medicare claims, which will allow researchers to track geographic variations in care quality, service utilization and spending;
A “Medicare Enrollment Dashboard,” which will provide inclusive enrollment statistics for Medicare Advantage and Medicare parts A, B, and D in a single location online; and
A “CMS Data Navigator,” which will allow lawmakers, the public and researchers to quickly find CMS data online and is expected to reduce Freedom of Information requests.

Please let me know what you thought of today’s Health Insurance news? I’m always wanting to know in a word or two..

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UnitedHealth to rebate $3.5 million to California small businesses – hmmmm read on…

Nearly 4,400 small businesses in California will share in $3.5 million in rebates from insurance giant UnitedHealth Group Inc. this summer as insurers nationwide prepare to return millions of dollars to customers as a key benefit of the federal healthcare law kicks in.

The first of these California rebates, amounting to about $98 each for nearly 36,000 small-business employees and dependents covered by UnitedHealth, comes because the company’s spending on medical care fell short of new government requirements.

Insurers must notify federal and state officials of how much they may owe policyholders by Friday if they failed to spend a minimum amount of customers’ premiums on medical care last year. Consumer groups pushed for this provision in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to ensure that companies aren’t raising premiums to pay for executive salaries, shareholder dividends and other expenses unrelated to customers’ care.

Healthcare experts say the rebates probably will be modest on a per-person basis and most of the money may go to employers. As of Wednesday, UnitedHealth was the only insurer that had filed rebate information with the state Department of Managed Health Care. Other companies are expected to disclose the size of their customer rebates later this week and send out money by Aug. 1.

UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest insurer, said checks will go out in July to those small businesses affected. The Minnetonka, Minn., company said that under the federal rules it did not owe rebates to individual policyholders or large employers in California.

Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said these rebates are an important milestone since most other provisions of the federal law don’t take effect until 2014, and policyholders have continued to face rising premiums. The average premium for employer coverage in California has increased 154% over the last decade, more than five times the 29% increase in the state’s overall inflation rate.

“For the first time, a broad spectrum of California and America will feel a positive consequence of this legislation,” Kominski said.”When is the last time you got a rebate from your health insurance company? People have been waiting a long time for this.”

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Have a great weekend!!

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