In his comments to the Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a bill co-sponsor, said the database will help patients in making medical decisions and help taxpayers understand what their tax dollars pay for in the Medicare program. "Why isn't this information already available?" he asked.
The third co-sponsor is Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).
This is the second effort to gain legislative support for the release of Medicare billing and spending data. Sen. Grassley's first effort in 2011 languished in committee, but the emphasis on price transparency and the demand for meaningful data may help it win sufficient support this time around.
Over the past several weeks the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has broken with precedent and released volumes of pricing data. In May it provided the chargemaster data for the 100 most common Medicare inpatient diagnostic related groups or DRGs. Last week at Datapalooza IV, the fourth annual national conference on health data transparency, CMS released several data bases, including estimates for average charges for 30 types of hospital outpatient procedures.
Researchers, data aggregators, and lawmakers, are clearly eager for more.