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Feds Hide Health Care Data Behind a Wall of Secrecy


Whether it’s a matter of simple missed deadlines or deliberate executive secrecy, crucial data on federal health care experiments is being withheld from the public.

Last month the Obama administration released data on the first-year performance of the Affordable Care Act’s primary cost-saving measure: accountable care organizations. The results were mixed, even worrying. But at least the numbers were there to parse. When it comes to Obamacare, we’re learning that no news is bad news. A Bloomberg editorial notes:

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has missed the reporting deadlines, some of them mandated by Congress, for at least nine other payment-reform experiments — and, in many cases, won’t even say how late the agency is. Nor will CMS say when the data will be revealed….

CMS isn’t just sitting on the results. In some cases, it has barred the hospitals and health-care systems that took part in the projects from discussing what effect these experiments have had on costs. It has also instructed some health groups not to discuss future projects.

Initial reports have been released for several of the nine programs the piece lists, but final, comprehensive reports that analyze all the data after the program has ended haven’t been. In other words, the main cost-control experiment we do have data on isn’t going so well, and the results of other Medicaid programs aren’t available either because of inefficiency or because the powers that be don’t want them to be known.

This news points to a continuing trend of legal end-runs, delays, and information poverty that has characterized federal health care experiments, culminating in the botched ACA implementation. More and more it seems like Peggy Noonan’s words in a recent WSJ blog post are correct: “This thing looks now like one large hitch, one big and never ending bump.” We bet Obamacare ultimately will be neither as good as it supporters wish nor as bad as its most vocal detractors insist. But the road to full implementation is looking rockier every day.

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  • NCMountainGirl

    Obamacare adds players with political agendas to a system that already has layers of risk adverse and greedy bureaucrats and lawyers between doctor and patient.

    Without wishing him ill, I think the author might benefit from spending several days in a hospital on his own nickel asking why are all these tests being run, can’t it be done cheaper and won’t anyone truthfully explain what is happening? The answer is the doctors who know each person responds differently now have to deal with idiots writing computer protocols who insist exactly we are all the same as the worst scenario a trial lawyer can cook up. The waste is tremendous.

    Since Obamacare empowers even more bureaucrats while totally ignoring how the malpractice bar drives costs it is about to get much worst. How much worse? With Pigford, this administration already has shown how it will encourage rampant fraud to feed plaintiffs’ attorneys.

  • Boritz

    We bet Obamacare ultimately will be neither as good as it supporters wish nor as bad as its most vocal detractors insist. -Via Meadia

    Don’t go out on limb. Hedge your bets next time,

  • Corlyss

    “when a thousand things have to be changed about a law to make it workable, some
    politician is going to stand up and say: “This was a noble effort in the right
    direction but let’s do the right thing and simplify everything, with a
    transparent and understandable plan: single payer.” Will that be Mrs. Clinton’s
    theme in 2016?” – Noonan

    What a ridiculous notion! As the signature accomplishment of the first black president, Democrats will resist any and all efforts to fix the program regardless of how screwed up it is, how little it accomplishes, how much fraud/waste/abuse is revealed or discovered in it, or how expensive it is. It will become the Headstart program of the 21st Century, ineffective, unworkable, and yet unendable. The famous Democratic whip discipline will prevent even critical Democrats from touching it, while all reforms must originate with the Republicans and will be greeted with the same sort of howls about “meanness” and “starving the poor of medical care.” The political dialog around this miserable program is already so corrupt it’s impossible to have any hope of correction.

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