Barry Straube, the CMS' chief medical officer, will not be joining a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association physician advisory board as previously stated by the Blues. According to a CMS spokesman, there apparently has been a "misunderstanding" with the Blues, and the association erred when it issued a June 18 news release stating that Straube accepted a seat on a physician advisory board that will help develop the association's Blue Health Intelligence database of de-identified claims information.
"Dr. Straube says he has not accepted any official role in these advisory groups," said CMS spokesman Don McLeod in an e-mail yesterday to Health IT Strategist, contradicting the Blues' press release announcing the formation of physician and employer Blue Health Intelligence, or BHI, advisory groups that listed Straube as a member and identified him as the CMS CMO and director of the CMS Office of Clinical Standards and Quality.
Straube had been asked a few months ago "to possibly attend meetings and provide input as a liaison for CMS to a multi stakeholder collaborative group on using claims data for various purposes," McLeod's e-mail said. "It was not represented as a BCBSA proprietary project."
The news release, however, noted that the advisory panels were formed to "further enhance the market development of its Blue Health Intelligence initiative," and Blues President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Serota is quoted as stating: "The addition of these groups will help BHI maintain its leadership in healthcare informatics." The release also said that the advisory groups will be responsible for contributing "research-based insights" and monitoring new cost and quality initiatives.
"In any event, Dr. Straube has not accepted to be a member of any such group," McLeod's e-mail said. "They shouldn't be using his or CMS's name."
Earlier today, the Blues acknowledged that Straube will not be on the advisory board and issued this statement: "Due to the proprietary nature of Blue Health Intelligence, Dr. Barry Straube will not be participating in the recently established BHI physician advisory group, and we apologize for any misunderstanding and confusion that this may have created."