On June 20, CMS published a much-anticipated proposed rule that, according to a CMS press release,(www.cms.gov) aims to simplify the Quality Payment Program (QPP) in 2018.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act requires that the program be updated annually.
The proposed rule, available now for public inspection(s3.amazonaws.com) and scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on June 30, devotes special attention to the hurdles faced by physicians in small, independent and rural practices who want to participate in the program.
At the same time, it addresses other CMS primary responsibilities: ensuring fiscal sustainability of the Medicare program and maintaining a high level of quality care for Medicare beneficiaries.
"We've heard the concerns that too many quality programs, technology requirements and measures get between the doctor and the patient," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma, M.P.H., in the release. "That's why we're taking a hard look at reducing burdens."
The proposal seeks to ease the onerous administrative tasks that bog physicians down and keep them from their clinical responsibilities, she noted.
"We aim to improve Medicare by helping doctors and clinicians concentrate on caring for their patients rather than filling out paperwork," said Verma.
"CMS will continue to listen and take actionable steps towards alleviating burdens and improving health outcomes for all Americans that we serve."
In response to the proposal's release, the AAFP published a statement, attributed to AAFP President John Meigs, M.D., of Centreville, Ala., expressing overall support.
"The proposed regulation will improve the ability of family physicians to participate successfully in payment reforms envisioned by the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act," said Meigs in the statement.
He noted that in addition to CMS' apparent effort to tame the administrative duties that plague physicians, an initial -- albeit brief -- review of the proposal revealed progress on other fronts.
For example, Meigs said the AAFP was pleased to see that the agency had incorporated some of the Academy's suggestions regarding medical homes, including a gradual rollout of the financial risk borne by these entities, as well as steps taken to reduce risk "for practices of all sizes" that are participating in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.
The AAFP also praised CMS for addressing virtual groups.
"This is a solid step forward in leveling the playing field for small practices who -- without a mechanism by which they can join other practices for reporting purposes -- would be subject to a negative payment adjustment," said the statement.
As always, a dedicated team of AAFP staff members will now dive into the details of the proposal and conduct a thorough analysis before the Academy responds to CMS within the 60-day commenting period allowed.
Related AAFP News Coverage
MACRA: The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act
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CMS fact sheet(www.cms.gov)