December 22, 2013

Can We Trust WebMD for Reliable Info?

At least one of my Senators is speaking out about transparency. “The contract has raised concerns for one senator. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told the Times that "disclosure and transparency would be a good practice for any recipient of federal funding to promote the administration's health care plan."”

Even if certain content is not produced with federal funding, but the same company takes federal government money to produce other materials, consumers would be better-informed by knowing the financial relationships.” Senator Grassley is an influential member of the Senate Finance and Budget committees.

WebMD has received a $4.8 million deal with the government, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to educate health care workers about parts of the health care law.

WebMD says it doesn’t believe it had an obligation to disclose to its broad consumer base its $4.8 million contract with the government. The company says the contract, while awarded to WebMD, went through its Medscape platform, which provides continuing education to doctors in a password-protected portal and is run independently from WebMD’s news operation.”

CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) officials defended the contract.  “As part of our broad outreach and education efforts that we have conducted across CMS programs for years, we are working with Medscape, which is owned by WebMD, to inform Americans about the new opportunity to enroll, many for the very first time, in quality affordable health care coverage,” the CMS statement read.

Anyway you slice this, a conflict exists and the intent harms readers because they do not know who or what entity is behind the articles. All I can say is thank you to the Washington Times for their investigating and bringing this to the attention of all.

Then we are able to hear from a doctor that does not appreciate medical content providers that go political. It is refreshing to see this happen and realize that patients are not the only people that wonder when this happens.

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