In The News

CMS Releases Hospice Compare Website to Improve Consumer Experiences, Empower Patients

Today, as part of our continuing commitment to greater data transparency, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) unveiled the Hospice Compare website. The site displays information in a ready-to-use format and provides a snapshot of the quality of care each hospice facility offers to its patients. CMS is working diligently to make healthcare quality information more transparent and understandable for consumers to empower them to take ownership of their health. By ensuring patients have the information they need to understand their options, CMS is helping individuals make informed healthcare decisions for themselves and their families based on objective measures of quality.

“The Hospice Compare website is an important tool for the American people and will help empower them in a time of vulnerability as they look for information necessary to make important decisions about hospice care for loved ones,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “The CMS Hospice Compare website is a reliable resource for family members and care givers who are looking for facilities that will provide quality care.”

Hospice facilities offer specialized care and support to individuals with a terminal illness and a prognosis of six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. Once a patient elects hospice care, the focus shifts from curative treatment to palliative care for relief of pain and symptom management, and care is generally provided where the patient lives. Additionally, caregivers can get support through the hospice benefit, such as grief and loss counseling. Hospice Compare helps patients and caregivers find hospice providers in their area and compare them on quality of care metrics.

Section 1814(i)(5) of the Social Security Act authorizes a quality reporting program for hospices. The Act requires hospice providers to report data to CMS on a number of quality measures selected through notice and comment rulemaking. The Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) includes both quality data from the Hospice Item Set (HIS) and Hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (Hospice CAHPS®).

The Hospice Compare site allows patients, family members, caregivers, and healthcare providers to compare hospice providers based on important quality metrics, such as the percentage of patients that were screened for pain or difficult or uncomfortable breathing, or whether patients’ preferences are being met. Currently, the data on Hospice Compare is based on information submitted by approximately 3,876 hospices.

The Hospice Compare website will reflect current industry best practices for consumer-facing websites and will be optimized for mobile use. For more information, please visit https://www.medicare.gov/hospicecompare/ to view the new Compare site.

For more information, visit the Hospice Quality Public Reporting webpage.

Effective Health Care Program - Helping You Make Better Treatment Choices

The Effective Health Care Program is pleased to announce the launch of its newly redesigned Web site today, Friday, August 11, 2017. The Web site's address remains the same: https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov. All of your bookmarks will continue to work.

The new design offers streamlined menus, clear navigation, improved search capabilities, and a responsive layout that works on all your devices.

The Web site offers these new navigation features – 

  • Health Topics” – organizes EHC Program products by categories such as demographic groups and condition.
  • Consumers” – lists all of the consumer summaries and patient decision aids on one page.
  • Products & Tools” – offers quick access to EHC Program reports, shared decisionmaking tools, and professional education resources.
  • Research Methods” – provides guidance, methods, and tools to support systematic reviews as well as research using registries.
  • Get Involved” – presents ways to participate in EHC Program research by suggesting topics, commenting on research in development, and submitting scientific data.
  • "Product Search" – helps to more easily find reports using faceted searching.

We hope you enjoy the new Web site! For any questions, suggestions, feedback, or comments, please email us.

Effective Health Care Program
https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov

Accredited Online Course Available; Correction: Explanation of Special Status; Attend CMS Office Hours; Reminder: Hardship Exception Application Now Open

Now Available: Accredited Online Course – Quality Payment Program 2017 Merit-based Incentive Payment System: Quality Performance Category

A new, online and self-paced overview course on the Quality Payment Program is now available through the MLN Learning Management System. Participants will receive information on:

  • The Quality Performance Category requirements, and how this category fits into the larger Quality Payment Program
  • The data submission methods for the Quality Performance Category
  • The scoring and benchmark methodology for the Quality Performance Category

This course is the fourth course in an evolving curriculum on the Quality Payment Program, where participants will gain knowledge and insight on the program all while earning valuable continuing education credit. Keep checking back with us for updates on new courses. First time participants will need to register for the MLN Learning Management System. Once registered, you will be able to access additional courses without having to register. For information on how to login or find training, please visit our MLN Learning Management System FAQ sheet.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services designates this enduring material for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Credit for this course expires August 1, 2020. AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ is a trademark of the American Medical Association.

Accreditation Statements

Please click here for accreditation statements


Explanation of Special Status Calculation – Correction

On July 24, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) distributed an email update with an explanation for its special status calculation for the Quality Payment Program. The message incorrectly stated that clinicians considered to have “special status” would be exempt from the Quality Payment Program.

Special status affects the number of total measures, activities, or entire categories that an individual clinician or group must report. Individual clinicians or groups with special status are not exempt from the Quality Payment Program because of their special status determination.

To determine if a clinician’s participation should be considered special status under the Quality Payment Program, CMS retrieves and analyzes Medicare Part B claims data. Calculations are run to indicate a circumstance of the clinician's practice forwhich special rules would apply. These circumstances are applicable for clinicians in: Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), rural, non-patient facing, hospital-based, and small practices.

For more information, please visit the Quality Payment Program website.


Attend CMS Office Hours to Ask Questions about the Quality Payment Program NPRM

Join CMS for an office hours session on Wednesday, August 16 on the draft provisions included in the Quality Payment Program Year 2 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). CMS will provide a brief overview of the Quality Payment Program and address questions from attendees on the Year 2 NPRM.

Webinar Details

Title: Quality Payment Program Year 2 NPRM Office Hours Session

Date: August 16

Time: 12 - 1 pm ET

Registration Link: https://engage.vevent.com/rt/cms/index.jsp?seid=845

Space for this webinar is limited. Register now to secure your spot. After you register, you will receive a follow-up e-mail with step-by-step instructions about how to log-in to the webinar.

For More Information

CMS encourages participants to review the proposed rule, press release, and fact sheet prior to the webinar. Additional resources are also available on the website.


Reminder: Quality Payment Program Hardship Exception Application for the 2017 Transition Year Is Now Open

Clinicians Can Now Submit Quality Payment Program Hardship Exception Applications

The Quality Payment Program Hardship Exception Application for the 2017 transition year is now available on the Quality Payment Program website.

MIPS eligible clinicians and groups may qualify for a reweighting of their Advancing Care Information performance category score to 0% of the final score, and can submit a hardship exception application, for one of the following specified reasons:

  • Insufficient internet connectivity
  • Extreme and uncontrollable circumstances
  • Lack of control over the availability of Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT)

There are some MIPS eligible clinicians who are considered Special Status, who will be automatically reweighted (or, exempted in the case of MIPS eligible clinicians participating in a MIPS APM) and do not need to submit a Quality Payment Program Hardship Exception Application.

About the Hardship Exception Application Process

In addition to submitting an application via the Quality Payment Program website, clinicians may also contact the Quality Payment Program Service Center and work with a representative to verbally submit an application.

To submit an application, you’ll need:

  • Your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for group applications or National Provider Identifier (NPI) for individual applications;
  • Contact information for the person working on behalf of the individual clinician or group, including first and last name, e-mail address, and telephone number; and
  • Selection of hardship exception category (listed above) and supplemental information.

If you’re applying for a hardship exception based on the Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstance category, you must select one of the following and provide a start and end date of when the circumstance occurred:

  • Disaster (e.g., a natural disaster in which the CEHRT was damaged or destroyed)
  • Practice or hospital closure
  • Severe financial distress (bankruptcy or debt restructuring)
  • EHR certification/vendor issues (CEHRT issues)

Please note: Once an application is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email that your application was submitted and is pending, approved, or dismissed. Applications will be processed on a rolling basis.

New AHRQ Publications Summarize Evidence on Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease

New AHRQ publications can help clinicians and patients learn about the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on heart disease. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Current State of the Evidence suggests that in healthy people, dietary intake of fish oil may help lower the risk of CVD death and stroke.  In people already diagnosed or at increased risk for heart disease, evidence showed fish oil supplements do not lower the risk of longer term heart problems, such as heart attack and heart failure, and death.  The companion publication for patients Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease – A Review of the Research for Adults may help consumers talk about the benefits and risks of omega-3 fatty acids.

New AHRQ Publications on Insomnia Disorder

New publications from AHRQ can help clinicians and patients effectively manage insomnia disorder, defined as a long-term condition in which a person has trouble sleeping at least three nights each week for at least three months. The clinical guide Management of Insomnia Disorder in Adults Current State of the Evidence found evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can be effective and safe as a treatment. Some short-term studies found that medications were also effective for treating insomnia, but they have potential side effects. Also available is Managing Insomnia Disorder – A Review of the Research for Adults, a companion guide for patients to support treatment options discussions between clinicians, patients and caregivers.

Explanation of Special Status Calculation; New Accredited Online Course Available

Explanation of Special Status Calculation

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has introduced new information on qpp.cms.gov that indicates whether clinicians have “special status” and can therefore be considered exempt from the Quality Payment Program.

To determine if a clinicians’ participation should be considered as special status under the Quality Payment Program, CMS retrieves and analyzes Medicare Part B claims data. A series of calculations are run to indicate a circumstance of the clinician's practice for which special rules under the Quality Payment Program will affect the number of total measures, activities or entire categories that an individual clinician or group must report. These circumstances are applicable for clinicians in: Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Rural, Non-patient facing, Hospital Based, and Small Practices.

For more information, please visit the Quality Payment Program website.

Now Available: Accredited Online Course – Quality Payment Program 2017 Merit-Based Incentive Payment System: Improvement Activities Performance Category

A new, online and self-paced overview course on the Quality Payment is now available through the MLN Learning Management System. Learners will receive information on:

  • The Improvement Activities performance category requirements, and how this category fits into the larger Quality Payment Program
  • The steps you need to take to report Improvement Activities data to CMS
  • The basics about scoring of the Improvement Activities performance category

This course is the third course in an evolving curriculum on the Quality Payment Program, where learners will gain knowledge and insight on the program all while earning valuable continuing education credit. Keep checking back with us for updates on new courses. First time learners will need to register for the MLN Learning Management System. Once registered, learners will be able to access additional courses without having to register. For information on how to login or find training, please visit our MLN Learning Management System FAQ sheet.

CMS Announcement of Proposed Rule for Implementation of the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) Expanded Model

On July 13, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the Calendar Year (CY) 2018 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) proposed rule that would make additional proposals to implement the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) expanded model starting in 2018. The MDPP expanded model was announced in early 2016, when it was determined that the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) model test through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s Health Care Innovation Awards met the statutory criteria for expansion. Through expansion of this model test, more Medicare beneficiaries will be able to access evidence-based diabetes prevention services, potentially resulting in a lowered rate of progression to type 2 diabetes, improved health, and reduced costs.

The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program expanded model is a structured intervention with the goal of preventing progression to type 2 diabetes in individuals with an indication of pre-diabetes. The clinical intervention, the result of National Institutes of Health-funded research, consists of a minimum of 16 intensive “core” sessions of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved curriculum furnished over six months in a group-based, classroom-style setting that provides practical training in long-term dietary change, increased physical activity, and behavior change strategies for weight control. After completing the core sessions, less intensive follow-up meetings furnished monthly will help ensure that the participants maintain healthy behaviors. The primary goal of the expanded model is at least 5 percent weight loss by participants.

The CY 2017 Medicare PFS final rule, published in November 2016, established the expansion and aspects of the expanded model policy framework. The CY 2018 PFS proposes additional policies necessary for suppliers to begin providing MDPP services nationally in 2018, including the MDPP payment structure, as well as additional supplier enrollment requirements and supplier compliance standards aimed to ensure program integrity. Services provided under the expanded model would largely be furnished in-person. We present a new proposal on beneficiary engagement incentives. We also include in this proposed rule amendments on previous policies finalized in the CY 2017 PFS regarding MDPP services and beneficiary eligibility.

CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule until September 11, 2017, and will respond to comments in a final rule. The proposed rule will appear in the July 13, 2017 Federal Register and can be downloaded from the Federal Register (PDF).

Final Recommendation Statement: Behavioral Counseling to Promote a Healthful Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adults Without Cardiovascular Risk Factors

July 11, 2017 – The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released today a final recommendation statement on behavioral counseling to promote a healthful diet and physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention in adults without cardiovascular risk factors. The Task Force recommends that primary care professionals individualize the decision to offer or refer adults without obesity who do not have hypertension, dyslipidemia, abnormal blood glucose, or diabetes to behavioral counseling to promote a healthful diet and physical activity. To view the recommendation and the evidence on which it is based, please go to https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/healthful-diet-and-physical-activity-for-cardiovascular-disease-prevention-in-adults-without-known-risk-factors-behavioral-counseling. The final recommendation statement can also be found in the July 11 online issue of JAMA.