March 7, 2018
Last month, the new Health and Human Services (HHS) Administrator, Alex Azar, tolled the death knell on MACRA MIPS quality reporting. Even as the MIPS program just began its second year, Azar reinforced what MedPAC (Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) has been suggesting since June 2017: trash MIPS quality reporting and speed up provider transition to APMs (Alternative Payment Models). MedPAC is so eager to engineer this that it recently suggested even more incentives to help physicians make the switch. If you believe the hype, both providers and patients will win if MIPS is eliminated or vastly rewritten. Certainly, the notion…Read More
November 8, 2017
The 2018 Quality Payment Program Final Rule: What You Need to Know
Halloween may be over, but CMS has given us one more scare—a 1,653-page Final Rule for Year 2 of the Quality Payment Program. The Proposed Rule represents the next phase of the transition into a full-fledged Quality Payment Program. For eligible providers, more is required to avoid penalties, but CMS has defined the process to favor those making efforts to avoid penalties. Of course, the program is designed to facilitate improvement—not just to meet a minimum participation threshold. Success will not be quantified in terms of avoiding penalties but, rather, by demonstrating exceptional performance and improvement. With these guidelines established…Read More
November 1, 2017
Providers Should Believe in Health Care Cost Control Now—If They Want to Stay in Business
Despite MACRA and other Value-Based Health Care efforts, many health care providers believe that controlling health care costs is impossible to do. They cite lack of comprehensive data about their patients and where they obtain services, and lack of control of patients’ decisions. But the real issue that providers have with cost control is much simpler: Why give up revenues under Fee for Service by reducing volume of services? That system has rewarded them well, fueling the growth of consolidated health systems, technology expansion and purchase of physician practices by ensuring a patient base. Controlling costs is now a relatively…Read More
September 20, 2017
Physicians Aren’t Engaged in Performance Because Measure Results Aren’t Real
According to management guru Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it.” Quality measurement and reporting have been rooted in similar reasoning. The idea is that we find out what’s wrong, and then we launch programs to improve it. That’s the linear route mapped out by Medicare starting with Meaningful Use, PQRS quality reporting, Value Modifier comparisons, and moving into current MACRA MIPS and APMs. But physicians have known something for a while that others have been unwilling to accept: quality reporting measures don’t give you a foundation for improving outcomes. Why? Because performance measurement does not…Read More
September 13, 2017
Can Academic Medical Centers Be a Force for Health Care Reform?
Can Academic Medical Centers (AMCs) survive Value-Based Health Care and its metamorphosis to financial risk? That’s the question many industry watchers have been asking for several years, as margins have slimmed and some university-based programs have sold off their facilities and physician groups to private interests. But a number of economic and policy impacts are generating greater urgency regarding the status of AMCs, threatening their ability to continue their historical three-part mission of teaching, research and specialized patient care. While AMCs have been targeted as “high rollers” by those seeking to control health care costs, we should be very concerned…Read More
September 6, 2017
October 2 Is Almost Here: Are You MIPS-Ready?
Calendar check! October 2, the last chance to start your continuous 90-day participation in MIPS, is nearly here. Those who meet minimum standards in the “Pick Your Pace” transition year will avoid a whopping 4 percent penalty on their 2019 Medicare Part B reimbursements. Those who exceed these requirements and perform strongly in MIPS stand to earn incentive payments on top of the regular reimbursement schedule. To make sure that you’re among those who will earn incentives (or at least avoid penalties), take an opportunity to review MIPS requirements, assess what’s in place and close the remaining gaps. What Do…Read More
August 23, 2017
CMS Eliminates Episode Groups in MIPS Cost Tracking for 2018—But Providers Should Not
It’s no surprise that Cost is one of the most significant targets of Medicare Value-Based Health Care initiatives, as well as those in the private sector. So it was a real surprise last month to learn that CMS would delay weighing Cost as a component of MACRA MIPS total scoring. Equally significant is the CMS plan to scrap the ten episodic cost measures that were part of the cost calculation for provider groups in exchange for new, “to be determined” versions. Does this retreat from Cost and episodic costs calculation signal a big shift in the direction of Medicare Value-Based…Read More
August 16, 2017
How to Evolve MACRA MIPS Quality Reporting for Better Physician and Patient Value
Critics are pushing back against Medicare quality reporting, deeming it burdensome and time-consuming to meet confusing quality measures. One survey asserts that barely a majority feel knowledgeable about MACRA or prepared to achieve long-term success. Indeed, CMS is pulling back on program requirements, with the stated desire of making it easier for physicians. So, here's what should be examined—especially when discussing Value-Based Health Care: Does MIPS Quality Reporting meet the benefit test for the effort expended by physicians and their staff? If the point of Quality Measurement and Reporting is to improve care for patients, can it fulfill that potential?…Read More
July 19, 2017
The Future of MACRA: Will MIPS Survive?
Will MIPS survive as Medicare’s overarching performance measurement and improvement program for physicians? That’s the question as providers finalize their plans for meeting requirements in 2017 and beyond. MIPS Is in Adjustment Mode MIPS is undergoing a significant transition. How do we know? First, the ink is hardly dry on the huge rewrite of various Medicare Value-Based Health Care programs combined and streamlined through the MACRA Final Rule in October 2016. That rewrite replaced PQRS, the Value-Based Payment Modifier and Meaningful Use with a Merit Incentive Pay System (MIPS) for physicians. Yet, while MIPS is still in its initial implementation…Read More
July 5, 2017
Who Will Fill the Leadership Void in Health Care Reform if MACRA Rolls Back?
Amidst the political cacophony over health care coverage for American consumers, a fundamental question has been relegated to a soundbite: How can we control cost? Everyone (in the industry or participating in the debate) knows that cost drives our health care system problems, including affordable insurance coverage. The fallacy at the heart of all the wrangling is that we can address coverage affordability without confronting cost. But doing something about cost in a de-regulation environment is exceptionally difficult. That is why we are finding ourselves in the midst of both a MACRA implementation and a likely MACRA Rollback. And no…Read More