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CMS Releases 32 Quality Measures Under Consideration for 2018

December 1, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Following up on its “Meaningful Measures” announcement that aims to streamline quality measures and reduce regulatory burdens, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted 32 quality measures that are currently under consideration and open for public comment.

 CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the “Meaningful Measures” initiative last October, with the goal to involve only assessing those core issues that are most vital to providing high-quality care and improving patient outcomes. Through its development, the agency aims to focus on outcome-based measures going forward, as opposed to trying to micromanage processes.

According to CMS, each year the federal agency publishes a list of quality and cost measures that are under consideration for Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs, and collaborates with the National Quality Forum (NQF) to get input from multiple stakeholders, including patients, families, caregivers, clinicians, commercial payers and purchasers, on the measures that are best suited for these programs. Ultimately, these measures may help patients choose the nursing home, hospital, or clinician that is best for them, and can help providers to provide the highest quality of care across care settings, according to CMS.

This year’s measures under consideration (MUC) List contains 32 measures; CMS is considering new measures to help quantify healthcare outcomes and track the effectiveness, safety and patient-centeredness of the care provided, the agency said in a press release.  “At the same time, CMS is taking a new approach to coordinated implementation of meaningful quality measures focused on the most critical, highly impactful areas for improvement while reducing the burden of quality reporting on all providers so they can spend more time with their patients,” the announcement said.  

In addition to other factors, CMS said it evaluated the measures on the MUC list to ensure that measures considered for adoption in a CMS program through rulemaking as necessary, focus on clearly defined, meaningful measure priority areas that safeguard public health and improve patient outcomes. 

For example, to generate this year’s MUC list, CMS considered 184 measures submitted by stakeholders during an open call for measures.  Considering the meaningful measurement areas, CMS narrowed the list to 32 measures (17 percent of the original submissions). “CMS will continue to use the Meaningful Measures approach to strategically assess the development and implementation of quality measure sets that are the most parsimonious and least burdensome, that are well understood by external stakeholders, and are most likely to drive improvement in health outcomes,” the agency stated.

This year, approximately 40 percent of measures on the MUC list are outcome measures, including patient-reported outcome measures. In addition, this year there are eight episode-based cost measures proposed that were developed by incorporating the insight of clinicians and specialty societies.

The National Quality Forum has already said that it has begun its annual review of the 32 measures. NQF’s Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) brings together stakeholders from the private and public sectors to provide guidance to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the selection of performance measures for federal public reporting and payment programs, including the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

The list of measures under consideration is open for initial public comment through Dec. 7, and MAP will deliver its measure recommendations to HHS by Feb. 1, 2018.

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