Saturday, November 19, 2016

How Reimbursement Is Changing For Palliative Care - MACRA

by Stacie Sinclair

(Register for the free webinar here)

There is no disputing that recent events mean a huge shift in the direction of health care in the coming years. Although we’re learning more each day about what programs will stay and what will go, there remains tremendous uncertainty that only time will clarify. Yet in this period of transition, there is at least one major program that the nation’s best health policy minds agree is here to stay: MACRA’s QPP!

WHAT DO THOSE CRAZY ACRONYMS MEAN?
The Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) is a bipartisan law that repealed the Sustainable Growth Rate and established a brand-new Quality Payment Program (QPP). The QPP, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, will accelerate the movement towards payment for value by creating two new clinician payment tracks: the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (Advanced APMs). In the early years of these programs, clinicians participating in MIPS will see positive or negative adjustments to their Medicare Part B billing depending on their “performance”, while clinicians participating in qualifying Advanced APMs will receive a 5% bonus on top of their Part B billing. Ultimately, the track clinicians participate in will depend on many factors, the most important being the amount of RISK their practice accepts.

AND WHY DOES THIS MATTER FOR PALLIATIVE CARE?
First – this is how clinicians will be paid! In years 1 and 2, eligible clinicians (ECs) include physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinician nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists who bill Medicare Part B for more than $30,000 and see more than 100 Medicare patients annually. And while the implications will vary based on practice size, work environment, participation in an ACO or other APM, etc., the more proactive you are, the more likely you are to be successful!

Second – the emphasis on performance and APMs represents a HUGE opportunity for palliative care. Palliative care is vital to value-based care, as it demonstrably improves quality of care and quality of life for seriously ill patients, and in so doing, helps the health care system avoid unnecessary utilization and spending. At its most basic level, the transition to value means that hospitals and health systems are increasingly on the hook for cost and quality outcomes. So whether you’re an independent program looking to partner, or a team within a large system that deserves more attention, rapid QPP implementation means that there are going to be more leaders looking for “solutions” that we know palliative care can provide!

SO WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Clocking in at over 2,000 pages, there is no question that the final regulations for the QPP are complicated and confusing. But help is on the way! On November 29, 2016, the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care (NCHPC) is sponsoring a FREE WEBINAR to describe provisions of the final rule and next steps (click this link to register). Experts from the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Associations (HPNA), and the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) will be on hand to clarify who will be most affected and activities that palliative care clinicians should be doing right now.

Again, you can register for the webinar by going to this link. And feel free to send me any questions you have in advance – Stacie.Sinclair@mssm.edu!


JUST CAN’T WAIT UNTIL NOVEMBER 29 TO LEARN MORE?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has developed a fantastic QPP website that walks users step-by-step through the various components of the MIPS and Advanced APM tracks. It includes interactive tools, fact sheets, and other resources, and CMS is providing regular updates as new information becomes available. And if you need just a little more palliative care flavor in your research, be sure to check out the last NCHPC webinar that our all-star team held in early June, describing the basics of the proposed rule.

We look forward to seeing you on November 29!

Stacie Sinclair, MPP, LSWA is the Policy Manager at the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out other scintillating takes on health policy and palliative care from the CAPC staff at https://palliativeinpractice.org/health-reform-quarterly/.

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