Pallone Urges Verma to Finally Release Medicare Data on COVID-19 Outcomes Based on Race, Ethnicity and Gender
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) wrote to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma today reiterating his request that the agency release its demographic claims data concerning the outcomes of COVID-19 based on race, ethnicity and gender.
“It has now been nine weeks since I first requested access to this data, and ten weeks since you stated that the data would be available ‘very shortly.’ Despite the urgency with which this information is needed, you have yet to make any of this data publicly available,” Pallone wrote to Verma. “This is unacceptable and demonstrates that CMS is clearly unwilling to sufficiently prioritize the need to address demographic disparities as it relates to COVID-19 outcomes”.
While access to demographic data on COVID-19 outcomes has improved, no publicly available data source substitutes for the Medicare claims data available to CMS. The agency’s use of specific coding for COVID-19 gives it access to robust demographic data that could be used to better understand demographic disparities in care and help improve health outcomes.
“It is critical that CMS release this data immediately in order to effectively respond to and address clear demographic disparities in care that have become apparent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but have long persisted in our health care system,” Pallone continued. “I expect CMS to work collaboratively with the Committee and provide us with the information necessary to ensure the federal government and this Administration is properly utilizing its mandate and authority to advance public health and protect the American people.”
Multiple reports have found that people of color are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates. According to provisional reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans represent 23 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths despite representing 13.4 percent of the overall U.S. population.
“Your delay in providing Congress and the American people with the critical demographic information that is available to your agency and that you promised to release raises significant concerns about CMS’s response to this pandemic,” Pallone concluded. “Further delay will necessitate my consideration of additional measures to ensure your agency’s compliance with these legitimate requests.”
To read the full letter, click HERE.