Signals Trump Administration’s About-Face on Obama-Era Mandatory Innovation Models
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has just released a proposed rule to cancel a significant — but still-pending — Obama Administration program that would require certain hospitals to participate in Medicare episode payment models (EPMs) for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), and surgical hip/femur fracture treatment (SHFFT) procedures furnished in designated areas of the country. Perhaps more surprisingly, CMS also would dramatically scale back mandatory participation in the ongoing Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) program, with an option for participating hospitals in about half of the current CJR locations to shift to voluntary participation.
As previously reported, the EPM and CJR programs were part of the Obama Administration’s high-profile efforts to move the Medicare system away from fee-for-service (FFS) payments and towards alternative payment models (APMs) that reward quality of care rather than volume of services. Although early APMs (e.g., the Bundled Payment for Care Initiative) were voluntary, CMS eventually shifted attention to mandatory models in order to broaden participation. President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, M.D., has long been critical of mandatory Medicare payment innovation models and has been contemplating changes to these programs. It is now clear that the Trump Administration is reversing course and pulling back from mandatory models. In fact, CMS stated in an announcement that it “expects to increase opportunities for providers to participate in voluntary initiatives rather than large mandatory episode payment model efforts” in the future.
EPM/CR Models Slated for Cancellation
CMS published a final rule in early 2017 to establish a mandatory EPM program for AMI and CABG cases in 98 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA), along with a mandatory EPM program for SHFFT procedures in 67 MSAs covered by the CJR program. In short, CMS planned to provide a bundled payment to hospitals in selected geographic areas for individual episodes, covering all services provided during the inpatient admission through 90 days post-discharge. In such cases, the hospital would be held accountable for spending during the episode of care. The bundled payment to the hospital would be paid retrospectively through a reconciliation process (hospitals and other providers and suppliers would continue to submit claims and receive payment via the usual Medicare FFS payment systems). A participant hospital would receive a “reconciliation payment” if its actual episode payments (combined Medicare Part A and B claims payments for services furnished to the beneficiary during the episode) were below the target price for the episode, and certain quality thresholds were met. Beginning with the second performance year, affected hospitals would be required to repay Medicare for a portion of spending that exceeded the target price (with limits on upward and downward adjustment). The rule also included provisions intended to promote the use of cardiac rehabilitation services through a Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) Incentive Payment Model. Continue Reading