November 6, 2019
The common refrain within the 2475-page Medicare Final Rule for the Physician Fee Schedule and Updates for the Quality Payment Program (QPP) is “we are finalizing our policy as proposed.” This Rule follows the formula CMS adopted in its “Pathways to Success” ACO Rule: Propose a shake-up, reply to concerned commenters, and finalize policy without significant changes. CMS’s desire to move providers into Alternate Payment Models (APMs) comes through loud and clear, both in terms of its vision for MIPS 2.0 and in its more stringent scoring policies. As it stands now, MIPS has not evolved into the program CMS envisioned…Read More
October 16, 2019
The Hedge Bet for Risk is Patient Experience
Creating a good Patient Experience in health care has gained little traction, despite being touted as one of the Triple Aim’s key goals in Value-Based Health Care. Health systems have been more focused on how to increase patients via health plan negotiations and consolidating regional providers, rather than focusing on the slower paced process of improving customer appeal. But now Patient Experience appears to be gaining some attention, and some forward-thinking providers are innovating to be more attractive to patients. Why? Because in the fiscal landscape of Risk, growing patient volume is essential. Providers are beginning to realize that there…Read More
October 9, 2019
How Physicians Can Navigate to Get Better Value from Specialty Services
In recent articles, we’ve discussed how Value-Based Health Care must help consumers make good decisions. Equally as important, CMS is now emphasizing how physicians should serve as navigators for their patients, providing information and guidance. Let’s take a closer look at how the triad of primary care physician, specialist consultant, and patient can effectively engage in a process that improves Value through better outcomes and lower cost. To focus on the shifting role of primary care physicians (PCPs), we use “physician navigation” to describe PCP actions to coordinate care for their patients. To emphasize continuity of care at stake for…Read More
September 19, 2019
Are Patients at Risk when Quality Measures Scale Back?
CMS is now poised to roll back quality reporting requirements in 2021, vastly altering the direction of quality measurement. Simultaneously, CMS will reduce the weight in Value formulas dedicated to quality, transferring the balance to Cost over the next five years. As providers face risk-based reimbursement, what protections are needed to ensure that patients get the right care? Does streamlining the program give providers a pass on quality? And, how do patients choose providers when there is no standardized measurement? In this second in our series on whether Value-Based Health Care is on track to meet its mission, we take…Read More
September 11, 2019
Fixing Clinical Science Requires a Moonshot
“We chose to go to the moon” President John Kennedy’s statement instigated a monumental marshaling of resources to achieve a remarkable goal. Those famous words also established a powerful metaphor for aiming high. We need an equally monumental shift in purpose and commitment of resources for how we conduct clinical science. Nothing less than our nation’s health is at stake. In my view, there are only three possible ways research efforts might proceed: First, the conduct of research might not change, but continue to rely on observational studies and non-generalizable randomized trials (RTs). If so, populations of subjects included in…Read More
August 14, 2019
Five Actions ACOs Should Take Now: Takeaways from Proposed CMS Rulemaking
Last week CMS released a proposed rule addressing revisions in the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP), along with a few other matters. Of 1,704 pages, only about 20 addressed ACOs issues directly. But ACOs should take a holistic approach to reading this proposed rule, as well as the proposed Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) rule. Competition Among Risk Models Will Strongly Affect the Course of Change With so many CMS programs and models now in flux, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It’s worth the effort to pay attention to the…Read More
July 31, 2019
A MIPS Rewrite is Certain: CMS Proposed Rule for the 2020 Quality Payment Program
The CMS Proposed Rule for the 2020 Physician Fee Schedule and changes to the Quality Payment Program picks up where the “Pathways to Success” ACO rule left off. This time, the “Pathways” shake-up is aimed squarely at MIPS, in the form of “MIPS Value Pathways.” We’ve described the growing frustration with MIPS, specifically MedPAC’s report to Congress on its concerns that MIPS is overly burdensome and complex, and doesn’t translate into better care. That theme repeatedly shines through the 1,704 page proposal. CMS is using this rule as an initial salvo indicating that MIPS as we know it is headed…Read More
July 24, 2019
Can ACOs Survive the Complicated New Landscape in Medicare Risk?
What a difference a year makes. In Spring 2018, many Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) pondered a walkout over Medicare plans that included downside risk in ACO financials. Nonetheless, CMS finalized its plans to make provider risk a reality for all ACOs in its Pathways to Success overhaul of the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). ACOs’ lukewarm reception to the goal of compelled savings, however, was not forgotten. Fast forward to April 2019, when CMS announced five Primary Care Models to propel physician groups to adopt risk-based reimbursement directly—including capitation. Those models are now under fast-paced implementation, with application deadlines approaching.…Read More
June 5, 2019
Can Small PCPs Succeed in Medicare’s Primary Care First?
Medicare’s announced primary care models will provide an interesting test of whether financially-motivated primary care practices (PCPs) can improve hospital utilization, the key outcome measure that will determine provider revenues under the pilot. While provider risk for costs of patient care is inevitable for most physicians in the future, providers don’t have the same potential for financial success. That is especially true for PCPs, whose volume and roles in health care have been eclipsed by specialists and industry consolidation. Whether Value-Based Health Care can restore primary care to a central role of coordination—with the potential for cost reduction—is at the…Read More
May 22, 2019
Can Provider Risk Cure High Medical Costs?
Fee-for-Service (FFS) has been on a slow march toward risk-based reimbursement for two decades. But FFS has proven to be remarkably resilient—until now. In the last six months, Medicare has doubled down on creating new provider risk models for ACOs, specialists and primary care physicians. All of them have methods to ensure that providers are held accountable for medical expenditure targets. Wait. Haven’t we been here before? What‘s different between now and the 1980s, when HMOs and provider risk first prevailed in the market—and then were purged as both ineffective and unpopular? Is provider risk a cure for high medical…Read More