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Washington Debrief: Quality Measurement, Meaningful Use Changes were Popular Subjects during House Hearing Last Week

March 21, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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Congressional Affairs

Quality Measurement, Meaningful Use Changes were Popular Subjects during House Hearing Last Week

Key Takeaway: Last week a key Congressional committee heard from a top official from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), during which quality measure reporting and the Meaningful Use program were hot topics.

Why It Matters: The House Committee on Energy & Commerce, one of the committees with jurisdiction over healthcare matters, held a hearing entitled, “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015: Examining Implementation of Medicare Payment Reforms,” in which the committee heard from Dr. Patrick Conway, Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The discussion focused on the agency’s efforts to make the forthcoming Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), which condenses the Meaningful Use Program, Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value Based Payment Modifier (VBM) and a new performance category “Clinical Practice Improvement” into one new reimbursement program. Committee members focused their questions on the current quality reporting challenges, citing cost and the lack of outcomes measures.

The forthcoming Meaningful Use program changes alluded to by CMS Acting Administrator Slavitt were also a topic of conversation on both sides of the aisle. When asked about the broad principles and parameters that the agency is using the reform the use of health IT, Dr. Conway cited: flexibility, simplicity, interoperability and user-centered design.

CHIME submitted a statement for the record of the hearing, which offered CIO perspectives about simplifying the Meaningful Use program (suggesting any significant program changes be made for hospitals and physicians alike), improving quality reporting and facilitating standards-based interoperability.

The so-called MACRA rules, which will include details for providers participating in either MIPS or eligible alternative payment models (APMs) are expected to be released for public comment by the agency this spring.

Federal Affairs:

34 Provider Organizations Call for a 90-day Reporting Period for MU in 2016

Key Takeaway: CHIME was joined by 33 provider organizations, hospital and physician groups, in a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting a 90-day reporting period for Meaningful Use in 2016.

Why It Matters: A loud chorus of healthcare organizations, including CHIME, last week called on CMS to act quickly and adopt a 90-day reporting period in 2016 for the Meaningful Use program.

The provider organizations requested CMS implement a shortened reporting period in 2016 to build positive momentum and enable providers to successfully transition to a reoriented 2017 program, which will also be the first performance year under the new physician payment models created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA),  The letter suggested CMS continue their 2014 and 2015 reporting period policies through 2016, rather than the full-year, 365-day reporting period currently in place for 2016.

Further, the provider groups strongly recommended CMS announce a 90-day reporting period as soon as possible, unlike the October announcement made in 2015, to allow participants to complete their reporting period at any time during the year, which would be especially valuable for those who will need substantial upgrades for participation in MACRA programs before January 1, 2017. The groups suggested program reporting certainty will allow providers to deploy the type of innovative technology that offers more efficient and effective patient care.

HHS Establishes Cybersecurity Taskforce, CHIME Members Selected

Key Takeaway: Last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force, a 21-person task force is mandated by the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015.

Why It Matters: The HHS task force is charged with analyzing the unique challenges and barriers to cybersecurity in healthcare. It will also study how other industries are protecting data. The task force must develop a plan for sharing information among healthcare stakeholders, including the federal government, and is scheduled to issue a report to Congress in the next year.

CHIME has also been a strong advocate for developing healthcare-specific policies and guidelines at the federal level, as cybersecurity has been a top priority for our members. Thus CHIME welcomed the appointments of two board members, David Finn and Theresa Meadows, R.N., to serve on the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force.