CMS Simplifies Quality Reporting System With New Website

Kerry Dooley Young

January 04, 2018

Federal officials will now allow physicians and other healthcare professionals to use a single site for reporting data that will affect their Medicare payments. This marks a shift from an earlier approach that involved using multiple websites, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

CMS on January 2 announced the introduction of what it calls "one user-friendly site for all submissions." CMS Administrator Seema Verma, in an agency news release, said her agency seeks to act in "the least burdensome way possible" while carrying out mandates of the 2015 Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). That law spurred the creation of a system to link certain Medicare payments to judgments about the quality of care doctors provide. CMS has been wrestling for years to address complaints about how much time physicians spend reporting their data to the agency.

"We've heard your concerns that too many quality programs, technology requirements, and measures get between you and your patients," CMS said in a fact sheet about the new changes to its Quality Payment Program. "That's why we've looked at the ways that you submit data, and used your feedback to help streamline the submission processes to reduce your burden and provide a platform that incorporates your feedback and preferences."

Physicians and other participants in the Quality Payment Program should "log-in early and often to familiarize themselves with the system," CMS urged in the fact sheet. Participants can satisfy reporting requirements for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) by submitting data through the Quality Payment Program website (qpp.cms.gov), CMS said. The 2017 submission period runs from January 2, 2018, to March 31, 2018, except for participants using the CMS Web Interface, submission period which is January 22, 2018, to March 16, 2018.

Data can be updated at any time during the submission period. Once the submission period closes, CMS will calculate payment adjustments based on this data.

Underneath the complex new system of MACRA metrics and reporting requirements is a goal of improving the services provided to the more than 55 million people enrolled in Medicare, according to CMS. The agency is seeking to give physicians quick feedback on how well they fare on the agency's quality metrics, while acknowledging early potential hitches and delays in scoring.

"As data is entered into the system, eligible clinicians will see real-time initial scoring within each of the [MIPS] performance categories based on their submissions," CMS said in the fact sheet. "This scoring may change if new data is reported or quality measures that have not yet been benchmarked are used."

The performance category score also will not initially factor in a participant's Alternative Payment Model (APM) status, Qualifying APM Participant (QP) status, or other special status that may apply, CMS said.

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