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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

MIPS help offered for practices in rural and underserved areas

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is inviting small practices that work in rural and medically underserved areas to join a webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) to learn more about participation in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) track of the Quality Payment Program.

During the webinar, CMS will provide information about eligibility, how to participate in MIPS in 2017, methods for submitting data to CMS, performance categories, how practices are scored, and other resources for these types of practices.

Participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions during a Q&A session.

Registration is available online: https://engage.vevent.com/rt/cms/index.jsp?seid=682

Space for this webinar is limited, so you are encouraged to register as soon as possible to secure your spot. After you register, you will receive an email message with a webinar link.

For more information on MIPS and the Quality Payment Plan in general, read this article in the latest issue of FPM.

– Kent Moore, Senior Strategist for Physician Payment for the American Academy of Family Physicians

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Physicians, groups to get breather on PQRS penalties

It seems the most recent round of updates to ICD-10 coding has caused enough concerns at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that the agency is temporarily eliminating payment penalties based on those changes.

The CMS this week announced that the changes are expected to affect its ability to process data for certain quality measures within the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). As a result, individuals and groups that fail to satisfactorily report 2016 PQRS data solely because of the 2016 coding changes will not face 2017 or 2018 PQRS negative payment adjustments. Those who fail to satisfactorily report for reasons other than coding, however, are still at risk.

The changes affected a variety of measures, but the majority related to diabetes, pregnancy, cardiovascular, oncology, mental health, and eye disease diagnosis. This includes the diabetes, cataracts, oncology, cardiovascular prevention, and diabetic retinopathy measures groups.

Even if you believe the changes to ICD-10 affected your ability to meet the reporting requirements satisfactorily, CMS still expects you to report to PQRS. Once the 2016 reporting period ends, CMS plans to conduct an analysis to review and determine which submissions were negatively affected by the ICD-10 changes. Individuals and groups that feel they have received a negative payment adjustment as a result of the ICD-10 changes will also be able to file an informal review.

CMS advises that eligible professionals (EPs) should use the codes in the measure specification sheets for their respective reporting mechanism. Qualified registry, electronic health record, and qualified clinical data registry vendors should continue to calculate the measures according to their particular measure specification sheet.

EPs and vendors can contact the QualityNet Help Desk for assistance. CMS has also published frequently asked questions.

--Erin Solis, Regulatory Compliance Strategist at the American Academy of Family Physicians

Friday, January 6, 2017

Medicare’s Quality Payment Program is coming; two opportunities to get ready

The new year has begun, which means the Medicare’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) becomes even more important as what you do (or don’t do) in 2017 may affect your Medicare payments in 2019. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering two opportunities this month to get a leg up now on the new QPP.

First, CMS is conducting a Clinical Practice Improvement Activities Study and will accept applications for the study through Jan. 31. CMS says it is leading this study to examine clinical workflows and data collection methods using different submission systems and to understand the challenges facing physicians and other clinicians when collecting and reporting quality data. The agency says it will use this information to recommend ways to eliminate burdens, improve collection and reporting of quality data, and enhance clinical care.

Study participants must meet the following requirements between January and December of this year:

•    Complete at least three survey questionnaires.
•    Participate in at least three focus groups.
•    Submit at least three clinician quality performance measures to CMS.

If you or your physicians group is eligible for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and successfully participates in the study, CMS will award you full credit for the Improvement Activities performance category of MIPS. Participants will also get direct feedback from other study participants and CMS during the study on how to reduce problems with data collection and submission.

For more information and to apply to participate in the study, please visit the CMS website. You should submit your completed applications to CMSCPIAStudy@ketchum.com by Jan. 31.

CMS will also host a call titled “Medicare Quality Programs: Transitioning from PQRS to MIPS” on Tuesday, Jan. 24, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (EST). During this call, you can find out how to complete the final reporting period for the legacy Medicare quality reporting programs and transition to MIPS.

To register, please visit MLN Connects Event Registration. CMS is evaluating this call for continuing medical education credit. Please refer to the call detail page for more information.

– Kent Moore, Senior Strategist for Physician Payment for the American Academy of Family Physicians

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