Publishing of New or Enhanced Datasets and Tools
Across HHS, agencies and programs are making substantial efforts to provide data and tools to use the information in new ways. Secretary Sebelius announced plans in August 2011 to establish new operating procedures across the agencies that will augment the availability of data through semi-annual reports and publications of new and updated data sets to Healthdata.gov. New advisory committee roles are being established under the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) to oversee the uses of data and its publication. Described here are some of the new data resources that are being made publicly available.
- Release of Medicare Part C, Part D, and Retiree Drug Subsidy Plan Payment Data
CMS is releasing Part C, Part D, and Retiree Drug Subsidy (RDS) plan payment data to better inform the public on how their tax dollars are spent. The release of this data is also in keeping with the President’s January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. It is important for these data to be made available for the public to understand expenditures for the Part C, Part D, or RDS programs. The release of these data will facilitate public evaluation of the efficacy of the Medicare Advantage, prescription drug benefit, and RDS programs. The payment data to be released includes average per-person payment amounts for each plan, and average beneficiary risk score information for each plan for payment years 2006 through 2010. In addition, we will release average per-person payment and risk score information by county and plan type (e.g., Health Maintenance Organizations). The data will be posted annually: http://www.cms.gov/Plan-Payment/PPData/list.asp.
- National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and Tuberculosis Atlas.
A new interactive tool developed by CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and Tuberculosis Prevention (NCHHSTP), the NCHHSTP Atlas, will allow users to create maps, charts, and tables using HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB surveillance data. This new application is a result of a commitment to continue to improve access to public health data from across its programs. This increased access will provide public health partners and the public with the opportunity to use data in new and innovative ways. Having these data together in one user-friendly application will help ensure that program collaboration and service integration efforts have a solid foundation in surveillance and data use, which will help maximize the impact of public health programs and support the wise and efficient use of resources. This current release of the Atlas presents surveillance data for HIV, AIDS, chlamydia, gonorrhea, as well as primary and secondary syphilis. TB and viral hepatitis surveillance data are expected to be added in 2013, allowing for more emphasis on mapping, display, and analyses. By late 2014, NCHHSTP is planning to expand its functionality to provide more dynamic query functions as well as county-level data. More information on the NCHHSTP Atlas can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/atlas/
- HHS Grants Forecast
HHS’ Grant Forecast is a database of planned grant opportunities proposed by its agencies. Each forecast record contains actual or estimated dates and funding levels for grants that the agency intends to award during the fiscal year. The HHS Grants Forecast database is one of HHS’s key communication tools used to alert the public to upcoming grant funding opportunities. While “Forecasted” opportunities are subject to change based on enactment of congressional appropriations, communicating these prospects in advance gives potential recipients the chance to plan ahead for the upcoming application process. Once grant funding opportunities are available for the public to find and apply, they are transferred and posted to grants.gov, for which HHS is the Managing Partner.
- Health Indicators Warehouse
The Health Indicators Warehouse (HIW) is an HHS resource that supports the principle of transparency by making an increasing amount of high-quality data, data descriptions, related resources, and relevant interventions available from various Operating Divisions of the federal government in a single easily accessible and user-friendly location. The Health Indicators Warehouse (HIW) provides access to high-quality data, improves understanding of a community’s health status and health and health care determinants, and facilitates the prioritization of interventions. The purpose of the HIW is to:
- Provide a single, user-friendly source for national, state, and community health indicators
- Meet needs of multiple population health initiatives
- Facilitate harmonization of indicators across initiatives
- Link indicators with evidence-based interventions
- Serve as the data hub for the HHS Community Health Data Initiative, a flagship HHS Open Government initiative to release data; encourage innovative application development; and catalyze change to improve community health
Since the public launch of the site in early 2011 the system has seen a growing number of users and is now averaging approximately 1,500 visitors per day. The next release of the HIW, version 1.5, in early 2012 will add new indicators from CMS, county-level notifiable disease counts, a large amount of new data for existing indicators, and improvements to the interface display. This release will continue the improvements of the HIW in serving the community of public health indicator users with more and better data more easily accessed. New indicators, and updates to existing indicators, will be added over time with priorities set by an Inter-HHS Agency governance group. In 2012 the HIW will undergo a revision to enhance user features and build additional indicators for measuring health and disease conditions, and providing vast amounts of data for use. A release of version 2 is anticipated in March 2013.
- Affordable Care Act Report for “New” Grant Programs
This initiative established a routine electronic method for collecting Affordable Care Act grant award information from across HHS by state, program and Catalog of Federal Assistance Number (CFDA). This information is compiled into a single report which is used to inform the public of HHS’s Affordable Care Act spending. In the Fall of 2012 there will be a heightened focus on data quality and data integrity to ensure that information posted on the upcoming CFDA website is aligned with the obligation/award data made available to the public post-award.
- Monitoring of Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is releasing broad-view analyses, comparing the impact of the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program on the general Medicare population as well as Medicare beneficiaries likely to use competitive bid equipment based on their health conditions. Section 302 of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) established requirements for a new Competitive Bidding Program for certain Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS). Under the program, DMEPOS suppliers compete to become Medicare contract suppliers by submitting bids to furnish certain items in competitive bidding areas, and CMS awards contracts to enough suppliers to meet beneficiary demand for the bid items. The new, lower payment amounts resulting from the competition replace the Medicare DMEPOS fee schedule amounts for the bid items in these areas. The program sets more appropriate payment amounts for DMEPOS items while ensuring continued access to quality items and services, which will result in reduced beneficiary out-of-pocket expenses and savings to taxpayers and the Medicare program. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) requires the competition for Round Two to occur in 2011 in 70 additional metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and authorizes competition for national mail order items and services after 2010. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 expands the number of Round Two MSAs from 70 to 91 areas and mandates that all areas of the country are subject either to DMEPOS competitive bidding or payment rate adjustments using competitively bid rates by 2016.
On January 1, 2011, CMS launched the first phase of the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program in nine different areas of the country for nine product categories. In order to protect the interests of potentially affected Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare trust Fund, CMS performs the following activities:
- Conducts real-time claims analysis to monitor health status for groups of Medicare beneficiaries in competitive bidding areas (CBAs).
- Monitors usage rates and a wide range of health outcomes such as deaths, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, physician visits, admissions to skilled nursing facilities, average number of days spent hospitalized in a month and average number of days in a skilled nursing facility in a month.
- Monitors a “comparator” region for each CBA to examine rates across regions, as a type of control; in general, CBA rates are tracked closely by comparator rates both before and after the implementation of competitive bidding.
- Routinely updates and makes this monitoring information publically available on the CMS website.
Key deliverables and timelines for the project include monthly updates to be posted until first year claims are largely complete (March 2012); updates to be posted quarterly thereafter. The program is scheduled to be phased into 91 additional areas on July 1, 2013, increasing scale of monitoring and information from 9 to 100 total areas. In addition, a national mail order program for diabetic supplies is scheduled to be implemented on July 1, 2013, and monitoring information will then be generated for this national program.
- Retailer Compliance Check Inspection Database
Under the Tobacco Control Act, passed in June 2009, FDA is required to contract with states, where feasible, to conduct inspections of tobacco product retail establishments. To date, FDA has contracted with 37 states and the District of Columbia to conduct these retail compliance check inspections and has conducted over 41,000 inspections. FDA developed a database that shows the results, in a searchable format, of all retail compliance check inspections conducted (http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/oce/inspections/oce_insp_searching.cfm). The database displays whether a particular establishment has been inspected and whether that inspection resulted in a Warning Letter or “no violations observed.” After an inspection is conducted, the evidence is sent to FDA for review. Once the review is complete, the result of the inspection is added to the database on a monthly basis. This database is searchable by retailer name, city, state, and zip code.
- Enterprise-wide Financial Business Intelligence Program
This initiative fosters greater integration and transparency of Department-wide data and facilitates greater collaboration across HHS and amongst decision makers to ensure the robust fiscal integrity of data throughout its lifecycle from dollars being appropriated through its commitment, obligation, and expenditure to include providing the proper alerts, performance metrics, and reporting. This is a long-term strategic initiative being implemented over a period of five years to ensure that integrated financial information is easily accessible to decision makers via electronic tools known as “business intelligence tools.” In September 2012, documentation of the strategic vision and road map will be developed and by the end of 2012 a business case proposal in support of the long-term strategic initiative will be made available for Departmental consideration and decision.
- Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol
Section 6409 of the Affordable Care Act requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in cooperation with the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, to establish a Medicare Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol (SRDP) that sets forth a process to enable providers of services and suppliers to self-disclose actual or potential violations of the physician self-referral statute. It also gives the Secretary the authority to reduce the amount due and owing for violations of the statute. Once settlements are reached, limited information regarding SRDP settlements are published on the CMS website.
- BioSense and the Visualize Tarrant County, Texas Public Health Project
BioSense is a CMS program that tracks health problems as they evolve and provides public health officials with the data, information and tools needed to better prepare for and coordinate responses to safeguard and improve the health of the American people. The CDC BioSense Program was launched in 2003 to establish an integrated national public health surveillance system for early detection and rapid assessment of potential bioterrorism-related illness.
The BioSense Project to Visualize Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) health data collected by the BioSense Network and make available for public health use. Data consists of patient visits to hospital EDs that had the illness Gastro Intestinal, Heat Related, or Upper Respiratory divided by all emergency department visits that occurred for the same time period and in the geographic granularity for which the calculation was made. New data releases are anticipated in late 2013.
- Monitoring and Analysis of End-stage Renal Disease Claims
On January 1, 2011, the CMS implemented a new payment system for End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) facilities that bundles payment for dialysis treatments at the dialysis facility and at home and other renal dialysis services including drugs, laboratory tests, and supplies. In order to protect the interests of potentially-affected Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare Trust Fund, CMS has been performing the following activities:
- Conducting real-time claims surveillance on all ESRD facilities to monitor a wide range of health outcomes of individuals with ESRD and track changes in their utilization of services.
- Analyzing data reflecting trends for the three years preceding the implementation of the ESRD PPS.
- Comparing pre- and post implementation data, e.g., utilization rate of blood transfusions
CMS plans to call for non-proprietary findings to be made publicly available on the ESRD PPS website in Spring 2012 and will continue the claims analysis through CY 2013 and 2014 with routine updating of the postings.
- Expanding the Research Base for Tobacco Product Regulation
FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) and the NIH formed an interagency partnership to foster research relevant to tobacco regulations. As a result of this partnership, CTP and NIH have released and are planning a number of Funding Opportunity Announcements to stimulate research to aid in the development and evaluation of tobacco product regulations. In addition, CTP and NIH are collaborating to fund a number of research projects including a longitudinal cohort study of tobacco users known as the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. CTP reached out to over 40 organizations representing a broad array of scientific disciplines and invited them to attend the meeting. In addition, CTP is webcasting the meeting and inviting organizations to promote that webcast to their membership. Following the workshop, key staff from the CTP are planning symposia at several national conferences to increase awareness of and highlight FDA’s tobacco research opportunities and priorities. These initial steps are designed to build better linkages with and increase CTP’s visibility among the broader research community.
- Import Filer Evaluation Outcomes Initiative
Importers, or third parties working on behalf of importers, file information about products offered for import into the United States. FDA conducts evaluations of those filers who submit information electronically to ensure submission accuracy. Under this initiative, FDA will make the filer evaluation outcomes publicly available. FDA is exploring procedures to speed up the evaluation, which gives an incentive for filers to improve their outcomes quickly. The new procedures are expected to be implemented in September 2013. Additional information promoting transparency of the import filer process can be found at: