GAO Finds Federal Websites Leaving Medicare Patients Without Key Information

A congressional investigation has found that federal websites meant to inform Medicare patients about healthcare costs and quality are failing in their mission.

A report to be released this week by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) find that Medicare lacks clear procedures for getting useful information to consumers.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, finds “critical weaknesses” in five consumer-information websites run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that seek to inform how well hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and other Medicare providers are doing.

The GAO said a confusing layout, data gaps and lack of customized information make it virtually impossible for consumers to get the information they need and won’t be fixed anytime soon, even as the federal government plans new websites on the quality of hospice, inpatient rehabilitation and long-term care.

It is the latest report to detail problems in the government’s health care websites. The Obama administration has already grappled with the technology meltdown experienced last year by as well as glitches in the Sept. 30 rollout of data on payments doctors receive from drug companies.