Groups Urge CMS To Re-Evaluate 'Imminent Storm' of Regulations

The American Medical Association, physician specialty groups and state medical associations this week urged CMS to reconsider the "imminent storm" of regulations scheduled to go into effect in 2013, Modern Healthcare reports (Kutscher, Modern Healthcare, 3/29).

Groups Express Concerns

In a letter to acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the groups expressed concern about overlapping timelines for federal programs, including the:

  • Meaningful use incentive program for electronic health records;
  • Electronic prescribing program;
  • Transition to ICD-10 billing codes
  • Physician quality reporting system; and
  • Value-based modifier (AMA release, 3/29).

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

AMA President-elect Jeremy Lazarus said, "Facing all these deadlines at once is overwhelming to physicians, whose top priority is patients."

Lazarus also noted that physicians soon could face a nearly 30% cut in Medicare payments.

"The combination of these financial burdens could prevent physicians from making the investments needed to transition to new models of care delivery and improve the value and quality of care in the Medicare system," he said.

Groups Urge CMS To Act

In its letter, the groups asked "CMS to re-evaluate the penalty timelines associated with these programs and examine the administrative and financial burdens and intersection of these various federal regulatory programs." They added, "We also urge CMS to use its discretionary authority provided by Congress under these programs to develop solutions for synchronizing these programs to minimize burdens to physician practices, and propose these solutions in the physician fee schedule proposed rule for calendar year 2013" (Modern Healthcare, 3/29).

Specifically, the letter urged CMS to:

  • Halt its plans to back-date penalty programs;
  • Better synchronize incentive and penalty programs so physicians who successfully participate in one program do not face penalties in another;
  • Establish exemption categories for physicians facing hardships from program penalties; and
  • Implement a strong appeals process for penalties (AMA letter, 3/28).

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