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New Mexico becomes latest state to launch all-payer claims database

Meanwhile, controversy simmers over Blue Cross Blue Shield rate hikes on state's exchange plans

New Mexico will become the latest state to institute an all-payer claims database (APCD), a move intended to increase healthcare price transparency for consumers.

The state's Human Services Department plans to award a consultant contract early next month to help it plan and execute the database, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

Earlier this year, New Mexico's legislature passed a law the requires the state to make hospital-specific cost and care quality data freely accessible by 2017, though the law does not require that the state publicize health insurance claims data, the article notes. Still, Human Services Department spokesman Matt Kennicott tells the publication that the agency does not need legislative approval to create the database.

"It will allow many different payers, healthcare practitioners, and researchers to take a look at how we handle healthcare in this state and allow us to make improvements to our delivery system to better care for our fellow New Mexicans," says Kennicott. 

At least 16 other states have APCDs, FierceHealthPayer has reported, but they have not been without controversy. In a recent case set to be decided by the Supreme Court, Liberty Mutual Insurance took issue with Vermont's reporting requirements for its database, saying the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 supersedes the state's law.

On a more national scale, the Health Care Cost Institute in February launched a website that lists cost information for certain common health conditions and services based on claims data from four major insurers--Aetna, Assurant Health, Humana and UnitedHealth.

Health costs also have been a thorny issue in New Mexico of late, thanks to the state insurance superintendent's decision earlier this month to reject Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico's request to raise premiums on individual Affordable Care Act plans by an average of 51.6 percent, according to another Albuquerque Journal article. The health plan's president, Kurt Shipley, has suggested that in response the insurer may pull out of the state exchange.

To learn more:
- read the first article
- here's the second article

Related Articles:
Supreme Court to decide on all-payer claims database challenge
Health Care Cost Institute price transparency site goes live
The importance of claims databases to control costs
Rhode Island launches all-payer claims database