The snow continues to melt and a warming trend begins tomorrow.  That’s good news.

On the bad news front, the New York Times ran an investigative piece this morning on drug shortages afflicting hospitals and the Federal Times tells us that the GAO is concerned the the federal government’s multi billion dollar Einstein data protection system is still not up to snuff.

On the too early to tell front, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced today

[proposed] rules, as required by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), will allow organizations approved as qualified entities to confidentially share or sell analyses of Medicare and private sector claims data to providers, employers, and other groups who can use the data to support improved care. In addition, qualified entities will be allowed to provide or sell claims data to providers.

The qualified entity program was authorized by Section 10332 of the Affordable Care Act and allows organizations that meet certain qualifications to access to patient-protected Medicare data to produce public reports. Qualified entities must combine the Medicare data with other claims data (e.g., private payer data) to produce quality reports that are representative of how providers and suppliers are performing across multiple payers, for example Medicare, Medicaid, or various commercial payers. Currently, 13 organizations have applied and received approval to be a qualified entity.  Of these organizations, two have completed public reporting while the other 11 are preparing for public reporting. 

Finally the Drug Channels Institute produced a list of the top 15 U.S. pharmacies by dispensing revenues. The top three are CVS/Caremark (22.8%), Walgreen’s (14.9%), and Express Scripts (11%). The top 15 pharmacies generate 73.4% of the total dispensing revenue — $364.1 billion. That’s a lot of dough.