CMS unveils another healthcare-related website

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The agency in charge of the debacle announced on Tuesday that it has rolled out yet another healthcare-related website.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) unveiled at a White House event on Tuesday the CMS Virtual Research Data Center (VDRC), a website for researchers to access Medicare and Medicaid program data.

While CMS has made its program data physically available to researchers for years, the VDRC enables researchers access to data in a “timelier” and “affordable” manner, writes Niall Brennan, Acting Director of CMS’ Offices of Enterprise Management, in an agency blog post.

For example, complete Medicare datasets used to cost researchers over $100,000. A researcher using the VDRC can have “access to as much data as his or her research requires for $40,000.”

“We believe this helps lower any price-based barriers to obtaining Medicare data,” said Brennan, stating that user fees “reflect the cost of making the data available and are used to fund CMS data dissemination to researchers.”

“Additional users can be added to a project for $15,000. We believe this helps lower any price-based barriers to obtaining Medicare data,” said Brennan.

In a statement to the media, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said, “We’re acutely aware of the huge potential that CMS data holds for creating a more efficient, higher quality health care system, and researchers play a large part in this transformation.”

“By providing researchers with secure, timely, and affordable access to CMS data, the agency is making it easier to do the important research that will lay the foundation for better quality and lower costs in the health care system,” said Tavenner.

Tavenner’s assurances of a website’s security are questionable, however. She reportedly signed off on’s security despite its not having been fully tested before it launched.

CMS’ project manager for told congressional investigators that he was unaware of the security risks plaguing the site prior to its launch.

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