CMS proposes higher performance standards for year 3 of MACRA Quality Payment Program, significant changes to part B coding requirements

On July 12, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule detailing the payment updates and policy proposals for the Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP) under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

As CMS moves forward with implementation of MACRA, the agency proposes raising the performance thresholds under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for 2019. As a result, a greater percentage of clinicians participating in MIPS would face larger negative payment adjustments in 2021, while a lesser percentage of clinicians would qualify for an additional positive payment adjustment for exceptional performance. The proposed increase in the weight of the Cost measure in MIPS would be an additional challenge for many clinicians, especially as they work to adapt to new performance measures including measures that focus on the efficiency of care delivery in eight episodes of care.

The proposed rule would present unique opportunities for health plans as the All Payer Combination Option begins on January 1, 2019, and CMS opens up the payer-initiated process for commercial and other private payers to submit payment models to CMS for qualification as an Other Payer Advanced APM for the 2020 performance year. In addition, a demonstration project under consideration would present a unique opportunity for Medicare Advantage organizations (MAOs) who incorporate certain risk-based payment arrangements into their contracts with clinicians.

For other health care stakeholders, the higher performance standards under MIPS and the move away from fee-for-service reimbursement will present opportunities to partner with clinicians on efforts to more effectively monitor and improve performance in the Cost and Quality performance categories.

With regard to proposed coding changes under the PFS, health care provider organizations may want to consider an analysis as to how the proposed workflow and payment changes might affect them.

The proposed rule also moves forward with implementation of health care provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA).

The proposed rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on July 27, 2018. Public comments are due to CMS by September 10, 2018.

Highlights of key provisions of the proposed rule are detailed below.
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New budget agreement includes health care policy changes, but generally shifts attention to regulatory activity through 2016 elections

Posted by Anne Phelps, on November 2, 2015.

President Obama on Monday, November 2, 2015 signed into law a two-year budget deal that sets federal spending levels through September 2017 and suspends the federal debt limit until March 2017. The House and Senate passed the bill last week. The legislation generally clears the decks of any must-pass legislation until after the 2016 elections, shifting the life sciences and health care sectors’ focus in Washington largely to regulatory activity on issues such as the 340B drug discount program, the new Medicare payment law (MACRA), and the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage.

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