The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is now reviewing a highly-anticipated Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed rule to implement major Medicare physician payment reform provisions included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).  As previously reported, MACRA repealed the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and

Congressional committees have held hearings recently on various health policy issues, including:

  • Energy and Commerce Committee hearings on CMS implementation of the Medicare physician fee schedule reform provisions included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), financing and delivery of long-term care, and the public health response to the Zika virus.
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The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) includes payment incentives to encourage providers to participate in alternative payment models (APMs) that focus on coordinating care, improving quality, and reducing costs. MACRA established the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) to provide recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on

On January 20, 2016, CMS is holding a call on data collection requirements related to global surgical periods as mandated by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).  Under this provision, the Secretary is directed to periodically collect information from a representative sample of physicians regarding the number and level of services and other items furnished during the global period (i.e., the services normally furnished by a surgeon before, during, and after a procedure, and typically including zero, 10, or 90 post-operative days). With respect to global period services for which a physician is required to report information, the Secretary is authorized to delay 5% of Medicare payments to “incentivize” reporting.
Continue Reading CMS Schedules Call on MACRA Global Surgery Data Requirement (Jan. 20)

CMS has extended the comment period on its October 1, 2015 request for information (RFI) regarding implementation of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and promotion of alternative payment models in accordance with MACRA. The comment period, which originally was scheduled to end on November 2, 2015, has been extended until November 17, 2015. CMS

On October 1, 2015, CMS published a request for information (RFI) regarding implementation of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) provisions that mandate significant reforms of the Medicare physician payment system. As previously reported, MACRA repealed the sustainable growth rate methodology (SGR) for updating the Medicare physician fee schedule, and after

On July 15, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published its proposed rule to update the Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) for CY 2016 – the first rulemaking since the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) repealed the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.  Under the proposed rule, the 2016 MPFS conversion factor (CF) would be $36.1096, compared with the 2015 CF of $35.9335, reflecting a 0.5% update factor specified under MACRA and a budget neutrality adjustment of 0.9999.  Note that the CF is subject to change in the final rule, however, if CMS does not meet a statutory target for expenditure reductions related to its review of misvalued procedures (discussed below). The proposed rule addresses numerous aspects of Medicare Part B and other CMS program policies.  Highlights include the following: 
Continue Reading Proposed CY 2016 MPFS Rule Takes First Steps in Implementing MACRA Reforms

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report pointing out potential shortcomings in the data and process used by CMS to establish the relative values (and consequently the reimbursement levels) for Medicare physician services. In particular, the GAO expresses concern that the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) process for

Today President Obama signed into law H.R. 2, the “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015” (MACRA), which reforms Medicare payment policy for physician services and adopts a series of policy changes affecting a wide range of providers and suppliers. Most notably, MACRA permanently repeals the statutory Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, achieving a goal that has eluded Congress for years. Now, after a period of stable payment updates, MACRA will link physician payment updates to quality, value measurements, and participation in alternative payment models.
Continue Reading President Obama Signs MACRA: Permanently Reforms Medicare Physician Reimbursement Framework, Includes Other Health Policy Provisions

On February 2, 2015, the Obama Administration released its proposed federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016. The budget would impact all types of health care providers, health plans, and drug manufacturers if adopted as proposed – which is unlikely given Republican control of the House and Senate. Nevertheless, Congress can be expected to consider the Medicare and Medicaid savings proposals (many of which are carry-overs from prior budgets) during expected debate in the coming months on Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) reform legislation or during future budget negotiations. The following is a summary of the major Medicare, Medicaid, and related policy proposals contained in the FY 2016 budget proposal.
Continue Reading Obama Administration Releases FY 2016 Budget Proposal with Medicare/Medicaid Provisions

On November 12, 2014, CMS published its final rule to update the Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) for CY 2015. Highlights of the sweeping rule include the following:

  • The Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014 provides for a 0% update to the conversion factor (CF) for MPFS services furnished between January 1, 2015 and March 31, 2015, with the CF adjusted afterwards according to the statutory Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. In the final rule, CMS determined that based on the zero percent update under PAMA and adjustments necessary to maintain budget neutrality, the CF for the first quarter of 2015 will be $35.8013 (compared to $35.8228 in 2014). CMS also announced that the CF for April 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015 will be $28.2239 – a 21.2% reduction — unless Congress establishes an alternative CF or otherwise modifies the SGR formula. While there is an expectation that Congress eventually will override this payment cut, the form any such action might take is speculative at this point.


Continue Reading CMS Publishes Final 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rule for 2015

MedPAC is meeting on October 9 and 10, 2014 to discuss a variety of Medicare policy issues, including: international comparison of rates paid to hospitals; sharing risk in Medicare Part D; potentially inappropriate opioid use in Medicare Part D; the next generation of Medicare beneficiaries; private-sector initiatives to manage post-acute care; and validating relative value

On July 11, 2014, CMS published its proposed rule to update the Medicare physician fee schedule for CY 2015. The proposed rule reflects enactment of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014, which provides for a 0% update to the conversion factor (CF) for MPFS services furnished between January 1, 2015 and March 31, 2015. In the Proposed Rule, CMS estimates that with the application of a budget neutrality adjustment, the CF for the first quarter of 2015 would be $35.7977 (compared to $35.8228 in 2014). Under PAMA, the CF will be adjusted on April 1, 2015 according to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula unless Congress takes additional legislative action. CMS does not speculate on the CF that will be applicable April 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015, but CMS previously estimated that the SGR would result in about a 20.9% cut in MPFS payments for 2015 if Congress does not again intervene. There is an expectation that Congress eventually will override this payment cut, but the timing and extent of any such relief cannot be assured at this time. Other key provision in the proposed rule include the following:

Continue Reading CMS Publishes Proposed MPFS Rule for 2015

CMS has released its highly-anticipated data files with Medicare payment data for individual Medicare physicians and certain other Part B suppliers as part of the Obama Administration’s initiative “to make our healthcare system more transparent, affordable, and accountable.” Specifically, the “Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File” contains information on utilization, payment (allowed amount and

On March 4, 2014, the Obama Administration released its proposed federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2015. Virtually all types of health care providers, health plans, and drug manufacturers would be impacted by the budget provisions if adopted as proposed – an unlikely scenario given the Republican House leadership’s reaction to the document. Nevertheless, the Medicare and Medicaid savings proposals (many of which are carry-overs from prior budgets) could resurface as spending offsets in the pending negotiations on Medicare physician fee schedule reform legislation or in future budget negotiations. Highlights of the Administration’s Medicare and Medicaid legislative proposals include the following (all savings estimates are for the 10-year period of FYs 2015-2024):

Continue Reading Obama Administration Proposes FY 2015 Budget with Medicare, Medicaid Savings Provisions

The bipartisan leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, House Ways & Means Committee, and Senate Finance Committee have released a consensus Medicare physician fee schedule reform bill expected to be considered by Congress before the latest temporary payment patch expires at the end of March. Highlights of H.R. 4015, the SGR Repeal and