This Week – October 5, 2012

This Week in Washington DC:

  1. ACG and GI Societies Host Webinar on Medicare ASC Quality Reporting Program: Reporting Started This Week
  2. House Republicans Urge CMS to Delay “Meaningful Use” Payments and Penalties Yet Speed-up the Standards and Requirements

ASC Quality Reporting Program Started October 1 – Is your facility prepared?
October 1, 2012 marked the beginning of Medicare’s Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Quality Reporting Program. ACG and the GI societies have hosted a series of webinars to help members prepare for these reporting requirements. To highlight the importance of this program, the GI societies hosted another webinar on October 1st, where ACG Practice Management Committee Chair Lawrence Cohen, MD, FACG and other physicians joined CMS to discuss the reporting program as well as to answer questions the societies have received over the course of this webinar-series. 

ASCs that fail to report the following quality data codes on at least 50% of their applicable CMS-1500 facility fee claim forms from October – December 2012 will be subject to a 2% reimbursement cut beginning in 2014. Facilities will report these codes from October – December 2012 on those facility fee claims forms where Medicare is the primary payor:

Please click here for more guidance on whether your ASC must participate in this program as well as to access the slides from the October 1st webinar:
http://gi.org/practice-management/medicare/medicare-asc-quality-reporting-toolkit/

House Republicans Express Concerns Over the “Meaningful Use” Program – Desire to Speed-Up Health IT Mandates and Requirements
In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dated October 4, 2012, Republicans from committees of health care jurisdiction expressed their disappointment in the Medicare “meaningful use” Electronic Health Record Incentive Program. The Chairs of both the House Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce Committees, as well as the respective Health Subcommittee Chairs, expressed concern over the $10 billion in federal bonus payments dispersed during the first stage of the program. The letter also expressed disappointment that final regulation on the second phase of implementing “meaningful use” does not go far enough in ensuring providers are using interoperable health IT in their practices. The letter urged HHS to suspend “meaningful use” incentive payments as well as delay the financial penalties beginning 2015 for those providers not achieving “meaningful use” of health IT.

While ACG supports delaying these penalties, the College believes Congress must first recognize the financial and operational challenges the “meaningful use” program places upon Medicare providers. The reason why practitioners are not incorporating health IT at as fast a rate as Congress may like is not because of HHS’s approach to phase-in interoperability standards. Rather, it is likely due to the financial and operational challenges the “meaningful use” program places upon providers when being forced to purchase HHS-certified systems that may not improve patient outcomes or even be applicable to the scope of practice in a gastroenterology suite/office. ACG urges Congress to focus instead on the looming 2013 Medicare reimbursement cuts, which if implemented, will ensure that Medicare providers do not have the financial resources to invest in and incorporate health IT at the rate that some in Congress desire. 

Please click here to read the House Republicans letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:
http://gi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Letter_from_House_to_HHS_re_EHR_payments_10-04-2012.pdf

Please click here to read the GI societies comment letter to HHS on the “meaningful use” program’s Stage 2 requirements and ACG’s practice assesement tool when participating in “meaningful use”:
http://gi.org/national-affairs/legislative-affairs/acg-this-week-national-affairs-news/this-week-may-11-2012/

ACG will continue to be the voice for clinical gastroenterology on Capitol Hill and will further work with Congress to convey these challenges our members face when treating patients and improving quality of care.

Please stay tuned for further updates. Please also share and discuss your thoughts with fellow ACG members on the ACG GI Circle. To login and share your comments, go to www.gi.org and sign in as a member. Once you have done so, click here and then click the orange "Visit ACG GI Circle" button to be taken to the GI Circle site. If you have not yet activated your ACG GI Circle account, please email us at acgcirclefeedback@within3.com.

Contact Brad Conway, VP Public Policy, with any questions or for more information.

Brad Conway
bconway@gi.org