CMS's Slavitt Calls for Rigorous Feedback on Doc Pay Proposal

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By Michael D. Williamson

May 3 — The leader of the Medicare agency May 3 urged hospital executives to provide meaningful comments on the agency's newly proposed doctor payment system.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is planning to hold several events to get feedback from providers on the physician pay proposal, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the CMS, told an American Hospital Association annual meeting.

Those wanting to offer feedback can do so outside the regular notice and comment process.

A proposed rule (RIN:0938-AS69), set for publication May 9 in the Federal Register, outlined the new system, which will be phased in over time (82 HCDR, 4/28/16).

Called the Quality Payment Program, the updated payment system was required under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, which replaced the sustainable growth rate formula as the Part B payment methodology. The goal is to allow physicians who offer higher quality care to be paid more. Comments (CMS-5517-P) are due June 27.

Meaningful Use Changes?

In addition to discussing the MACRA proposal, Slavitt told hospital executives that the CMS “must lead a simplification kick to reduce burden and give physicians back more time to spend with patients.”

Several years ago, the CMS launched an initiative that is reducing regulatory burden, and it saved hospitals $3.2 billion over five years, Slavitt said. However, he added that effort barely scratched the surface of what is possible.

Slavitt suggested that the CMS may seek to extend its simplification effort by implementing a proposed program for doctors into hospitals. “[W]e are in conversations now about finding opportunities to find ways to extend the simplifications of Advancing Care Information, the successor to Meaningful Use, into the hospital setting,” he said.

The federal government's meaningful use program sets specific goals for the use of electronic health records by eligible providers, such as doctors and hospitals. Providers that meet the goals qualify for certain incentive payments from the CMS.

The physician payment proposal changed the meaningful use program for doctors. Under the proposal, the name of the meaningful use program for doctors only would be changed to the Advancing Care Information program. If the proposal is made final, doctors will have to report fewer quality measures and will have more flexibility to choose which measures they report to various Medicare incentive programs (82 HCDR, 4/28/16).

More Events Coming

The CMS will be conducting dozens of listening and educational sessions on the proposed payment system, Slavitt said.

The CMS held a May 3 webinar to share general information about the physician payment proposal.

A May 4 webinar on the Quality Payment Program's merit-based incentive payment system is scheduled.

The merit-based incentive payment system will incorporate the CMS's three main Medicare incentive programs: meaningful use, the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and the Value-Based Payment Modifier. In addition, the merit payments system adds a fourth component to promote ongoing improvement and innovation to clinical activities.

During the May 4 webinar, the CMS will listen to feedback on the proposal from providers and others interested in the rule, the agency said in an e-mail.

In addition, a May 10 call, being billed as a listening session, is scheduled. It is an opportunity for stakeholders to provide the CMS with early feedback on proposed policy for the Quality Payment Program, the agency said.

There will not be a question-and-answer period during the webinar and call “because CMS must protect the rulemaking process and comply with the Administrative Procedure Act,” the agency e-mail said. Participants are encouraged to submit comments through the formal process outlined in the Federal Register.

Furthermore, the CMS won't consider feedback during the call and webinar as formal comments on the rule, according to the agency.

Specifics about other events weren't available May 3. “There will be more information about stakeholder involvement available in the coming weeks,” a spokeswoman for the CMS who asked not to be named told Bloomberg BNA May 3.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael D. Williamson in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brian Broderick at

For More Information

Slavitt's speech, as prepared for delivery, is at

The proposed rule is at

Details about the May 3 webinar is at

Registration for the May 4 webinar is at

Registration for the May 10 webinar is at