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CMS Releases Proposed Rule for 2019 Medicare Quality Payment Program

7/12/2018

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its proposed policies for Year 3 (2019) of the Quality Payment Program via the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The provisions included in the NPRM are reflective of the feedback it received from many stakeholders, and continue to provide additional flexibilities to reduce burden and smooth the transition, where possible, so that doctors and other clinicians can spend more time with patients.
 
Key proposals for Year 3 of the Quality Payment Program include:
  • Expanding the definition of Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) eligible clinicians to include new clinician types (physical therapists, occupational therapists, clinical social workers, and clinical psychologists).
  • Adding a third element (Number of Covered Professional Services) to the low-volume threshold determination and providing an opt-in policy that offers eligible clinicians who meet or exceed one or two, but not all, elements of the low-volume threshold the ability to participate in MIPS.
  • Providing the option to use facility-based scoring for facility-based clinicians that doesn’t require data submission.
  • Modifying the MIPS Promoting Interoperability (formerly Advancing Care Information) performance category to support greater electronic health record (EHR) interoperability and patient access while aligning with the proposed new Promoting Interoperability Program requirements for hospitals.
  • Moving clinicians to a smaller set of Objectives and Measures with scoring based on performance for the Promoting Interoperability performance category.
  • Continuing the small practice bonus, but including it in the Quality performance category score of clinicians in small practices instead of as a standalone bonus
  • Streamlining the definition of a MIPS comparable measure in both the Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs) criteria and Other Payer Advanced APM criteria to reduce confusion and burden amongst payers and eligible clinicians submitting payment arrangement information to CMS.
  • Updating the MIPS APM measure sets that apply for purposes of the APM scoring standard.
  • Increasing flexibility for the All-Payer Combination Option and Other Payer Advanced APMs for non-Medicare payers to participate in the Quality Payment Program.
  • Updating the Advanced APM Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) threshold so that an Advanced APM must require that at least 75% of eligible clinicians in each APM Entity use CEHRT.
  • Extending the 8% revenue-based nominal amount standard for Advanced APMs through performance year 2024.
Additionally, as result of our Human-Centered Design research, we’ve included new language that more accurately reflects how clinicians and vendors interact with MIPS. We look forward to your feedback on this approach. Please note that the official commenting mechanisms are outlined below.

Submit Comments by September 10, 2018
CMS is seeking comment on a variety of proposals in the NPRM. Comments are due by September 10, 2018.
You must officially submit your comments in one of the following ways:
  • Electronically, through Regulations.gov
  • Regular mail
  • Express or overnight mail
  • By hand or courier

For More Information
To learn more about the PFS NPRM and the Quality Payment Program proposals, review the following resources:
  • Press release – provides more details about today’s announcement
  • Fact sheet– offers an overview of the proposed policies for 2019 (Year 3) and compares these policies to the current 2018 (Year 2) requirements
  • Webinar – overview of the proposed rule for the 2019 performance period with the opportunity to ask questions
To learn more about the Quality Payment Program, visit: https://qpp.cms.gov.