While the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) advocates here in Harrisburg on a daily basis on behalf of Pennsylvania physicians and their patients, some physicians may not be aware of our advocacy efforts at the federal level.
We continue to work with the American Medical Association (AMA) on significant physician concerns, such as Meaningful Use (MU), Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and other national programs.
The AMA has been working with state and specialty partners, such as PAMED, to give voice to physician concerns about the move to Stage 2 and Stage 3. PAMED signed onto an AMA letter, which was sent to the U.S. House and Senate. Among the recommendations was a “laser-like focus on promoting interoperability and allowing innovation to flourish as vendors respond to the demands of physicians and hospitals rather than the current system where vendors must meet the ill-informed check-the-box requirements of the current program.”
PAMED also will be helping to amplify the AMA’s call to action to support HR 3940 (Meaningful Use Hardship Relief Act of 2015) – legislation that was recently introduced to help address physician concerns related to the MU program. This legislation would allow the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to grant blanket hardship exceptions to physicians, hospitals, and other affected providers for 2015. CMS has indicated in Congressional staff briefings that it would welcome providing them with the authority to grant a blanket exception for 2015.
Watch for a call to action coming soon from PAMED that will ask you to contact your U.S. Representatives to cosponsor this legislation. It will only take a few minutes of your time at most. While you can add personal stories and we encourage you to do so as it increases the impact of your message, you can also simply send a pre-written message to your U.S. Representative when you see the call to action from PAMED.
Why is this legislation needed?
- Lateness of the MU modifications rule: Eligible professionals must attest that they met the requirements for MU Stage 2 for a period of 90 consecutive days during calendar year 2015. However, CMS did not publish the Modifications Rule for Stage 2 of MU until Oct. 16, 2015, meaning that by the time eligible professionals were informed of the requirements, fewer than the 90 required calendar days for reporting remained in the calendar year. Physicians and hospitals are facing significant financial penalties due to this delay.
- New requirements: The new rules added additional requirements, leaving physicians no time to upgrade systems and change workflows to meet the new program measures for 2015.
- Statue requires exemptions be considered on a case-by-case basis: While CMS has stated in an FAQ document that eligible entities may apply for a hardship exemption if they are unable to attest due to the lateness of the rule, and that it will broadly grant these exceptions for 2015, the statue requires that hardship exemptions be granted on a case-by-case basis only. This means that hundreds of thousands of eligible professionals will be required to apply for exemptions and that CMS will be required to act on each application individually.
“It would be both equitable and more efficient for eligible professionals, as well as for CMS, for Congress to allow for an expedited hardship exemption process for participants for the year 2015,” the groups concluded in the letter.
A 60-day comment period on MU Stage 3 is also currently underway, and ends Dec. 15. Watch for a call to action coming soon from PAMED that will make sharing feedback with CMS easy.
Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA)
PAMED recently signed onto an AMA letter that urges the Administration to carefully consider and adopt principles that:
- Support delivery system improvements
- Avoid administrative and cost burdens for patients
- Reduce administrative burdens for physicians
- Improve current quality and reporting systems
- Recognize patient diversity
- Provide choice of payment models
- Are equitable
- Are relevant and actionable
- Provide stability and resources
- Are transparent