The AFFP and 11 other medical organizations, including the AMA, the American College of Physicians and the American Hospital Association, recently came together with one voice to ask CMS to extend an important deadline.
In a Jan. 18 letter(1 page PDF) to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, M.P.H., the organizations expressed concern about a fast-approaching Feb. 19 deadline for accountable care organizations (ACOs) to apply for participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) beginning on July 1.
Keep in mind that the CMS final rule for the program was not published in the Federal Register until Dec. 31 -- leaving existing ACOs and those still in the formative process scrambling to understand participation rules.
The letter called for the agency to extend the deadline by five-plus weeks, to March 29, to give ACOs additional time to "evaluate their options and complete the administrative and legal requirements of the application."
The organizations said feedback they had received from potential participants indicated it would be "challenging, if not impossible," to meet CMS' Feb. 19 deadline.
"We understand the time constraints CMS must operate within but ask that you keep in mind that this truncated timeline could harm program participation," said the letter.
The organizations reminded CMS that ACOs typically are not a single entity, "but rather a network of different providers affiliated under the legal umbrella of the ACO, including physician groups, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities."
In fact, "some ACOS can include nearly 200 unique sets of providers and must secure sign-on from multiple boards and governing bodies before finalizing applications," the letter continued.
The organizations noted their "unified desire to see the MSSP maintain (the) long-term sustainability necessary to enhance care coordination for millions of Medicare beneficiaries, lower the growth rate of health care spending and improve quality in the Medicare program."
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