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After receiving pushback on a plan that would limit the ways it provides data to researchers, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced that it will delay rollout of the changes until at least Jan. 1, 2025. The agency says the delay will allow time for CMS to "consider and be responsive to comments and concerns in developing the policy changes." APTA opposes the changes and will be submitting comments to CMS on the issue.

The planned shift would affect the ways CMS makes data available for research. Earlier this year, CMS announced that instead of offering both physical access to claims data, securely held at research institutions, as well as digital, cloud-based versions via the Chronic Conditions Warehouse Virtual Research Data Center, it would offer only the cloud-based option. That option requires payment of a $20,000 initial project fee followed by annual $10,000 project renewal fees.

When CMS issued a request for information on the planned change, researchers across the country, including prominent researchers in physical therapy, were quick to voice concerns that the new system is likely to hamper much-needed research. In a letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, a group of more than 375 prominent researchers from institutions across the U.S. decried the move as one that "jeopardizes the accountability of the entire healthcare system in the US through research that needs to be rigorous, reproducible, and conducted with academic freedom."

On April 15, CMS issued a statement saying that it would be backing away from its planned Aug. 19 implementation date to allow more time to consider comments on the change, and that the soonest any change would be enacted would be 2025. The agency said its review would also include the consideration of improvements to the data center, particularly around user experience "in conjunction with needed policy updates to strengthen data security."

APTA will respond to the CMS request for information and urges anyone affected by the planned changes to provide feedback as well. Comments should be sent to VRDCRFI@cms.hhs.gov by May 15.


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