Medical Rehab

RCPA will be working with the National Council on offering training and guidance on the final rule.

Today, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) finalized a landmark new payment system for Medicare clinicians that will continue the administration’s progress in reforming how the health care system pays for care. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) Quality Payment Program, which replaces the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), will equip clinicians with the tools and flexibility to provide high-quality, patient-centered care. With clinicians as partners, the administration is building a system that delivers better care; one in which clinicians work together and have a full understanding of patients’ needs, Medicare pays for what works and spends taxpayer money more wisely, and patients are in the center of their care, resulting in a healthier country.

With MACRA, congress gave HHS the tools to keep improving how we pay for care, so clinicians can focus on the quality of care they give, rather than the quantity of services they provide – and to keep improving the way care is delivered, by encouraging better coordination and prioritizing wellness and prevention.

First, the new payment system creates two pathways. These paths let clinicians pick the right pace for them to participate in the transition from a fee-for-service health care system to one that uses alternative payment models rewarding quality of care over quantity of services. Clinicians will choose between two options:

  • The first path gives clinicians the opportunity to be paid more for better care and investments that support patients. It reduces existing requirements, while still emphasizing and rewarding quality care. In the first year, it also provides a flexible performance period, so that those who are ready can dive in immediately, but those who need more time can prepare for participation later in the year.
  • The second path helps clinicians go further by participating in organizations that get paid primarily for keeping people healthy. For example, they could be part of an accountable care organization where clinicians come together to coordinate high-quality care for the patients they serve. When they get better health results and reduce costs for the care of their patients, the clinicians receive a portion of the savings.

Evolving along with payment reform

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is building the Quality Payment Program to evolve along with the health care system. That’s why it facilitates participation in new payment models. The Affordable Care Act created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) to implement and scale the best ideas from the medical community to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries while lowering costs. CMS intends to broaden opportunities for clinicians, including small practices and specialties, to participate in these kinds of initiatives. For example, a major opportunity being considered for 2018 will be the new Accountable Care Organization Track 1+ model that provides more flexibility for clinicians. CMS is also reviewing reopening some existing Advanced Alternative Payment Models for application to allow more clinicians to join these types of initiatives. In 2018, CMS expects about 25 percent of eligible clinicians will be a part of the second path of Advanced Alternative Payment Models.

Providing comprehensive support to clinicians

To further support small practices, MACRA provides $20 million each year for five years to train and educate Medicare clinicians in small practices of 15 clinicians or fewer and those working in underserved areas. Beginning December 2016, local, experienced organizations will offer free, on-the-ground, specialized help to small practices using this funding. In addition, Jean Moody-Williams, registered nurse and deputy director of the CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ), is leading an outreach effort to individual clinicians nationwide to help them prepare for the Quality Payment Program. In addition, CMS has launched a long-term initiative, led by Dr. Shantanu Agarwal, to improve the clinician experience with Medicare.

CMS is also launching a new Quality Payment Program website, which will explain the new program and help clinicians easily identify the measures most meaningful to their practice or specialty. There will also be a service center available by email and phone that will answer questions about the Quality Payment Program.

Continuing to listen

Today’s rule incorporates input received to date, but it is only the next step in an iterative process for implementing the new law. CMS will continue to host listening and learning sessions throughout the country, and welcome additional feedback from patients, caregivers, clinicians, health care professionals, congress, and others on how to better achieve these goals. CMS looks forward to feedback on the final rule with comment period and will accept comments until 60 days after the final rule’s release date. For more information about today’s rule, including a fact sheet, please visit this web page.

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In July 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed new bundled payment models to shift Medicare payments from rewarding quantity to rewarding quality by creating strong incentives for hospitals and clinicians to deliver better care to patients at a lower cost. These proposed new bundled payment models focus on heart attacks, heart bypass surgery, and hip fracture surgery, and would reward hospitals that work together with physicians and other providers to avoid complications, prevent hospital readmissions, and speed recovery. This proposal follows the implementation of the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CCJR) Model that began earlier this year which introduced bundled payments for certain hip and knee replacements.

CMS just released the second annual evaluation report for Models 2–4 of the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Initiative, which include both retrospective and prospective bundled payments that may or may not include the acute inpatient hospital stay for a given episode of care. This report describes the characteristics of the participants and includes quantitative results from the first year of the initiative. Key highlights include:

  • 11 out of the 15 clinical episode groups analyzed showed potential savings to Medicare. Future evaluation reports will have more data to analyze individual clinical episodes within these and additional groups;
  • Orthopedic surgery under Model 2 hospitals showed statistically significant savings of $864 per episode while showing improved quality as indicated by beneficiary surveys. Beneficiaries who received their care at participating hospitals indicated that they had greater improvement after 90 days post-discharge in two mobility measures than beneficiaries treated at comparison hospitals; and
  • Cardiovascular surgery episodes under Model 2 hospitals did not show any savings yet but quality of care was preserved. Over the next year, we will have significantly more data available, enabling CMS to better estimate effects on costs and quality.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule in the September 16, 2016 Federal Register that establishes national emergency preparedness requirements for Medicare and Medicaid participating providers and suppliers to plan adequately for both natural and man-made disasters, and coordinate with federal, state, tribal, regional, and local emergency preparedness systems. It will also assist providers and suppliers to adequately prepare to meet the needs of patients, residents, clients, and participants during disasters and emergency situations. The effective date of the regulations are effective on November 15, 2016.

Robena Web Edited

RCPA is pleased to announce the hiring of Robena Spangler as the new director for its Children’s Division. Robena has worked for NHS Human Services for many years in several key positions, including operations resource specialist, regional director – children’s services, director of out of home services and gender responsive services, and children and youth program specialist. In addition to her bachelor’s degree in sociology/human services, she holds an MS degree in leadership and professional advancement from Duquesne University.

Robena will begin in this position on September 26 – just in time for the RCPA Annual Conference. As many of you know, Connell O’Brien serves as the current children’s services director and will be retiring. Connell will remain with RCPA to assist in the transition and to continue with select initiatives. Please join us in welcoming Robena to RCPA!

The RCPA Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Steven Alwine, CEO of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of York, as its newest member. Steve has worked at HealthSouth for almost 25 years. He was promoted in 2002 to chief financial officer at HealthSouth Nittany Valley and returned to York in 2011 as chief executive officer. He currently fills a vacancy for an unexpired term ending June 30, 2017, as an RCPA director-at-large.

In addition, the board also selected Charles Barber, CEO of Erie County Care Management, Inc., to complete the unexpired term ending June 30, 2017, as board treasurer. Charlie has already been serving on the RCPA Board of Directors, but was recently voted to fill the vacant officer position of treasurer.

Join us in congratulating these individuals in their appointments. For a complete listing of the RCPA board members, please visit our website.

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that the inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) quality reporting program (QRP) provider preview reports are currently available until September 30, 2016. Members are encouraged to preview the performance date on each quality measure prior to public display on the IRF Compare website. While corrections to the underlying data will not be permitted during this timeframe, members can request a CMS review during the 30-day preview period if you feel the data is inaccurate. Additional information, including instructions on how to access preview reports, is available from the IRF Quality Public Reporting web page.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has published a notice that includes proposed changes to the Medical Assistance Fee Schedule for the Aging, COMMCARE, Independence, and OBRA Waivers in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

The Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) is proposing to add the following employment services to three of its waivers listed below:

  • COMMCARE waiver – Benefits Counseling, Career Assessment, Employment Skills Development, Job Coaching Intensive, and Follow-along and Job Finding.
  • Independence waiver – Benefits Counseling, Career Assessment, Employment Skills Development, Job Coaching Intensive, and Follow-along and Job Finding.
  • OBRA waiver – Benefits Counseling, Career Assessment, Employment Skills Development, Job Coaching Intensive, and Follow-along and Job Finding.

DHS has developed Medical Assistance (MA) fee schedule rates for the additional services added to these waivers. The proposed MA Fee schedule rates are available for review.

Comments regarding the notice and the proposed MA fee schedule rates will be accepted until Monday, October 3, 2016, and should be sent to: Department of Human Services, Office of Long-Term Living, Bureau of Policy and Regulatory Management, Attn: HCBS Rates, PO Box 8025, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8025. Comments can also be sent via email.