The recent publication of Medicare payment information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has received national media attention for many reasons. Beyond the implications of the release of raw data and the various interpretations that occurred, the release itself was historic for promoting transparency in the health care industry. The federal government has taken a significant first step to make previously guarded information open for examination. In Arkansas and many other states, there is a need for transparency not only to assess health care quality and costs, but also to examine the progress of the state’s system transformation efforts. Even opponents of health care reform agree that the business of health care delivery must improve, and increased transparency is a necessary component for making that a reality.
This brief focuses on the potential benefits of increased health care transparency, the status of information on the health care system in Arkansas, and initiatives that are creating opportunity and driving the need for a more transparent health care environment.