Archive for the ‘Healthcare Reform’ Category

Infographic: Comparing the Affordable Care Act and the House Republican Bill

March 8th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Comparing the Affordable Care Act and the House Republican BillRepublicans in the U.S. House of Representatives released on Monday legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

A new infographic by the New York Times compares the key features of ACA with what has been proposed by the House Republicans.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry Not in recent history has the outcome of a U.S. presidential election portended so much for the healthcare industry. Will the Trump administration repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? What will be the fate of MACRA? Will Medicare and Medicaid survive?

These and other uncertainties compound an already daunting landscape that is steering healthcare organizations toward value-based care and alternative payment models and challenging them to up their quality game.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN's 13th annual business forecast, is designed to support healthcare C-suite planning during this historic transition as leaders prepare for both a new year and new presidential leadership.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today. Have an infographic you'd like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

5-Part Framework for MIPS Success Under MACRA

March 2nd, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Before picking MACRA pace, physician practices should construct a framework for MIPS success.

Along with picking a MACRA pace, physician practices should construct a framework for MIPS success.

Regardless of the pace a healthcare organization sets for Quality Payment Program participation, there are some key tactics that should form the framework of any MACRA initiative. Here, William Holding, consultant with PDA Inc., outlines the critical elements organizations need to achieve "MACRA-readiness."

  • The first component for success is perhaps the most important, and that's having a culture of provider support. A willingness to explore new options. This component is free, so if you don't have that culture in place today, before going and investing in analytics products, performance improvement or new staffing, you've got to put this culture in place. We have seen organizations do this successfully, and make the journey into accountable care organizations (ACOs) or value-based programs by working on this piece first.
  • Second is strategic planning. Set measurable goals. That's important. Look ahead one year, two years, three years. Set goals that have timelines, and goals that are reasonably achievable.
  • The next piece is strong leadership. If you don't have a quality committee or a Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) committee, consider establishing one, and establishing a position lead in that program. It should be a multidisciplinary effort. Pull physicians, mid-levels, nursing leadership, IT and program management into that program. You should have tailored reporting strategies that align with your planning efforts.

    I've experienced teams that didn't work well. In working with large systems, even with the support of clinical leadership and with the right analytical skills, efforts, I have witnessed efforts that were slower than they should have been until they brought in the right team member. This team member possessed in-depth knowledge of clinical workflows, had clout within the organization, knew personnel across IT, could talk to providers, and was a good communicator. When that person was on the team, the efforts began to move forward much faster. You've got to find the right people to be involved.

  • Next, data analytics is key. This starts with an individual with the right skills. It doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive solution for this. Sometimes ad hoc solutions work just fine for certain organizations. However, you need the right individual who knows the data, who knows how to respond to requests from leadership, and who can really own it.
  • Lastly, clinical documentation is essential. Doing that well will improve your position in this program.

Source: Physician MACRA-Readiness: Mining QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize MIPS Performance

social determinants of health

Physician MACRA-Readiness: Mining QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize MIPS Performance describes the wealth of data analytics available from the CMS Enterprise Portal—Quality Resource Use Reports (QRURs) and other analyses providing a window into practice performance under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). MIPS is one of two MACRA reimbursement paths and the one where most physician practices are expected to align.

Infographic: Effects of President Donald Trump’s Healthcare Reform Proposals

January 25th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

There are four options under President Donald Trump's Affordable Care Act repeal and replace, according to a new infographic by NEJM Catalyst.

The infographic examines the impact of each of these options on: the number of uninsured, the number of individuals in poor health; the annual average out-of-pocket expenses for the individual market; and the impact on the federal deficit.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry Not in recent history has the outcome of a U.S. presidential election portended so much for the healthcare industry. Will the Trump administration repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? What will be the fate of MACRA? Will Medicare and Medicaid survive?

These and other uncertainties compound an already daunting landscape that is steering healthcare organizations toward value-based care and alternative payment models and challenging them to up their quality game.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN's 13th annual business forecast, is designed to support healthcare C-suite planning during this historic transition as leaders prepare for both a new year and new presidential leadership.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today. Have an infographic you'd like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

Infographic: Four Trends Impacting Healthcare in the United States

January 20th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The U.S. healthcare system is in a state of massive transformation, according to a new infographic by Alacriti. The shift is being driven by economic factors, legislation and evolving consumer expectations impacting all facets in the industry—from how patients receive their care to how providers are reimbursed for services provided.

The infographic outlines the changes occurring in the industry.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry Not in recent history has the outcome of a U.S. presidential election portended so much for the healthcare industry. Will the Trump administration repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? What will be the fate of MACRA? Will Medicare and Medicaid survive?

These and other uncertainties compound an already daunting landscape that is steering healthcare organizations toward value-based care and alternative payment models and challenging them to up their quality game.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2017: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN's 13th annual business forecast, is designed to support healthcare C-suite planning during this historic transition as leaders prepare for both a new year and new presidential leadership.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today. Have an infographic you'd like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

Trump Taps Orthopedic Surgeon, Medicaid Architect to Helm U.S. Healthcare Posts; Industry Reacts

December 5th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Change this text here.

Healthcare industry reaction to President-elect Donald J. Trump's choices to head the HHS and CMS was largely positive.

Calling his nominees "the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans," President-elect Donald J. Trump last week announced his plan to nominate Chairman of the House Budget Committee Congressman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06) as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Seema Verma as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

"Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on healthcare policy," said President-elect Trump in a news release. "He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American."

Prior to serving in Washington, Rep. Price worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon for nearly 20 years.

In the same announcement, the President-elect called Seema Verma, his nominee for CMS administrator, one of the leading experts in the country on Medicare and Medicaid. "She has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems,” he said.

Seema Verma is the president, CEO and founder of SVC, Inc., a national health policy consulting company. For more than 20 years, Ms. Verma has worked extensively on a variety of policy and strategic projects involving Medicaid, insurance, and public health, working with governors' offices, state Medicaid agencies, state health departments, state insurance departments, as well as the federal government, private companies and foundations.

Ms. Verma has extensive experience redesigning Medicaid programs in several states. Ms. Verma is the architect of the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), the nation's first consumer-directed Medicaid program, and served as the State of Indiana’s health reform lead following the ACA's passage in 2010.

Responding to the announcement, the American Medical Association (AMA) said it supports the nomination of Dr. Tom Price, who would be the first physician to serve as HHS secretary since President George H.W. Bush appointed Louis W. Sullivan, MD, in 1989, and only the third doctor in the HHS's 63-year history.

In a statement, Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, AMA Board Chair, cited decades of interactions with Dr. Price as a member of the AMA House of Delegates, Georgia state senator and House of Representatives. "Over these years, there have been important policy issues on which we agreed (medical liability reform) and others on which we disagreed (passage of the Affordable Care Act). Two things that have been consistent are [Dr. Price's] understanding of the many challenges facing patients and physicians today, and his willingness to listen directly to concerns expressed by the AMA and other physician organizations."

On the payor side, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national trade association representing the health insurance community, said in a statement that it anticipates cooperative, collaborative relationships with the new leaders of HHS and CMS.

"For many years, Dr. Price has been committed to ensuring that patients and consumers are well-served," said Marilyn Tavenner, AHIP president and CEO. "He will bring a balanced and thoughtful perspective to his role as Secretary of HHS. We look forward to working with him to promote competition, increase choice, and lower costs for every consumer.

"Likewise, we look forward to working with Seema Verma to strengthen our nation's healthcare system and empower Americans to improve their health and financial well-being, particularly those who depend on the valuable support and services provided through Medicare and Medicaid."

Related Resource: MACRA Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for the MIPS Merit-Based Incentive Payment System

MACRA MIPS

MACRA Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for the MIPS Merit-Based Incentive Payment System delivers a veritable MACRA toolkit for physician practices, with dozens of tips and strategies that lay the groundwork for reimbursement under Medicare's Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), one of two payment paths Medicare will offer to practices beginning January 1, 2017.

Infographic: Insurance Coverage Rates

August 5th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews


The percentage of Americans under age 65 who lack health insurance decreased from 2010 to 2015, according to new data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

An AHRQ infographic examines the uninsured rate among poor people, young adults, and across all races.

Private Insurance Exchanges: Adapting Insurer Strategies to the New MarketplacesSkyrocketing private exchange participation rates — industry estimates predict more than 40 million people may be enrolled in private insurance exchanges within three years — carry implications for health insurers in terms of how the various market segments are succeeding or failing to attract business.

Private Insurance Exchanges: Adapting Insurer Strategies to the New Marketplaces details the radical transformation underway in how employers and consumers offer and shop for coverage. It discusses the current status of private exchanges, reviews the inventory in existence today, and shares thoughts from market consultants and insurance executives on how new business strategies will be influenced by new entrants to the private exchange space and the participation of insurers and brokers.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

Have an infographic you'd like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

CMS to Physicians: 3 Things You Really Need to Know About MACRA

June 20th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

It is expected that most physician practices will opt for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under new MACRA-mandated reimbursement strategies.

It is expected that most physician practices will opt for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under new MACRA-mandated reimbursement strategies.

While digesting the implications of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) can be an understandable distraction for physicians, the goal of the MACRA program is to return the focus to patient care, not spend time learning a new program, emphasized CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt to members of the American Medical Association during the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago last week.

Early in Slavitt's comments, available in their entirety in a June 2016 post in the CMS blog, he posed the following two questions to physicians: What do you really need to know about the MACRA program? And what new sets of requirements are there to participate?

At the outset of his explanation, Slavitt emphasized Medicare will still pay for services as it always has, but every physician and other participating clinicians will have the opportunity to be paid more for better care and for making investments that support patients—like having a staff member follow up with patients at home.

As the AMA, AAFP and other physician support organizations have done, CMS will provide comprehensive MACRA documentation, Slavitt assured the association. "We will, of course, provide information in as much or as little detail as is helpful. For those who like to read computer manuals end-to-end, there is of course the 900-page proposed rule complete with every detail about how the regulation and the law is proposed to work. But, for most people, who do not need to see every scenario and how each element of the formula works, there are webinars, in-person meetings, fact sheets, and web portals that will bring all the information to suit various needs."

Slavitt then outlined three immediate features of the program designed as improvements over Medicare's existing payment system:

  • First, MACRA sunsets three disjointed programs. If you participate in the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Value Modifier, and the Meaningful Use program, your life just got simpler, as they are replaced with a single, aligned Quality Payment Program, which will reduce reporting requirements, eliminate duplication, and reduce the number of measures. For those who participate in MACRA Alternative Payment Models, those requirements are reduced further or eliminated.
  • Second, it also reduces the combined possible downward adjustment of 9 percent that is occurring today from the three programs to a maximum of 4 percent in the first year of the Quality Payment Program. The program is designed to build up over the course of several years, with more modest financial impacts in the first year when the vast majority of physicians are expected to be in the MIPS part of the program.
  • Third, while the Merit-Based Incentive portion of the law is designed to be budget neutral in general, there are new opportunities for additional bonuses. In MIPS, in addition to the 4 percent positive payment adjustment, there is the potential for much higher payments through $500 million in funding over six years. Physicians earn a 5 percent lump sum bonus for participating in an Advanced Alternative Payment Model.

Under the current proposed timing, the first physician reporting isn’t due until early 2018 for the first performance period in 2017, Slavitt said. Off-the-shelf tools like Certified EHRs and clinical data registries can provide complete capabilities, but other options exist as well, including most types of reporting that a physician is doing today.

If CMS can get data automatically or through another source, it will do so, he stated, before moving on to MACRA implementation and priorities.

Editor's Note: To briefly outline MACRA and advise on physician practice focus for the remainder of 2016 to avoid reimbursement penalties in 2017 based on the MACRA proposed rule, the Healthcare Intelligence Network will hold a 45-minute webinar on July 14, 2016: The New Physician Quality Reporting: Positioning Your Practice for MACRA's Merit-Based Incentive Payment System.

CHS on Data Analytics in Accountable Care: “No Matter What Happens, This Change is Coming”

February 11th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Collaborative Health Systems, the largest sponsor of Medicare ACOs in the United States, recently rolled out an analytics and dashboard portal for its 3,200 providers.

Attention, please. Two aggressive milestones to migrate Medicare providers to value-based healthcare are on the horizon:

  • In 2016, CMS expects 30 percent of Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursement to be tied to alternative payment models such as accountable care and bundled payments.
  • Also this year, the federal payor wants 85 percent of Medicare FFS payments to be based upon quality metrics.

"If you are a provider, or working with providers who accept Medicare beneficiaries, it's really important to know these changes are coming," advises Elena Tkachev, director of ACO analytics for Collaborative Health Systems (CHS). "It will be the responsibility of physicians to participate in these payments because no matter what happens, this change is coming."

Ms. Tkachev detailed the power of data analytics to drive CHS's success in accountable care during Data Analytics in Accountable Care: Strategies and Case Studies, a January 2016 webinar from the Healthcare Intelligence Network now available for replay.

As the largest sponsor of Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs in the United States, CHS has a firm handle on HHS's value-based agenda. The organization manages 24 MSSP ACOs, nine of which generated savings of nearly $27 million in 2014, and one that has been accepted as a Next Generation ACO, the newest Medicare accountable care model.

And with CMS expectations for value-based reimbursement slated to rise over the next two years, expectations for data analytics to improve care and costs related to Medicare beneficiaries have never been higher.

"Today, physicians are being measured through claims and the clinical metrics on the population they serve. We see the main responsibility of analytics as providing simple access to actionable, timely and relevant information to help clinicians make better decisions, improve quality of care and enhance the patient experience."

Despite the magnitude of its enterprise, CHS believes its future in accountable care rests upon its primary care physicians (PCPs), which it views as "quarterbacks of care" for its more than 280,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

To foster quality improvement, CHS equips PCPs with an arsenal of analytics capabilities. So that its 3,200 providers can tap into CHS's massive storehouse of CMS, claims, lab, risk stratification and care coordination data collected on its 24 Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs, the health system recently rolled out an analytics and dashboard portal.

These tools enable providers to monitor the aggregate health of their populations as well as their own performance, even giving providers the ability to track their own performance over time and contrast it with other clinicians'—a capability that pleases CHS's more competitive physicians, Ms. Tkachev notes.

Frequent webinar training keeps provider analytics' use sharp, and dashboard-generated reports and scorecards help physicians to monitor and enhance quality performance and improve patient outreach, Ms. Tkachev explained.

Despite its significant success, CHS still encounters the perennial challenges of access to timely and accurate data, aggregation abilities, and the display of meaningful results. Ms. Tkachev shared some CHS tactics to resolve these issues, including soliciting feedback on the tools from providers who use them.

Listen to an interview with Elena Tkachev on data analytic's potential to drive annual wellness visits and boost beneficiary attribution.

Yale New Haven’s High-Risk Care Management Commences with Its Employees

January 14th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

A care management pilot by YNHHS for employees and their dependents with diabetes was a template for future embedded care management efforts.

Disenchanted with vendors it engaged to provide care management for its workforce, Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS) launched an initial care management pilot for its high-risk employee populations. The pilot went on to become a very robust program and served as a training ground for two more embedded on-site care management initiatives. Here, Amanda Skinner, YNHHS's executive director for clinical integration and population health, provides details from on-site face-to-face care management for YNHHS employees and their dependents.

We have an RN care coordinator based on each of the four main hospital campuses of our health system: one in Greenwich, one in Bridgeport and two in New Haven. All of the RN care coordinators in this program are trained in motivational interviewing. The intent is for them to work with our high-risk, high-cost employees who have chronic diseases, and with their adult dependents that also fall into that population.

The care coordinators work with these employees across the entire system to help them access the care they need, identify their goals of care, get under the surface a little to determine barriers to their being as healthy as they can be, and manage them over time. We did create some incentives for employee participation in this program, including waived co-pays on a number of medications (for example, any oral anti-diabetics).

When we initially launched the program, we limited it to employees and dependents that had diabetes, because that was the population for which we had very robust data. We also knew that diabetes was generally a condition that lent itself well to the benefit of care coordination; that there were a lot of gaps in care. When we looked at our data, we saw that ED utilization was very high for this population; that their past trend was rising, that utilization of their primary care provider was actually below what you would expect. This meant that they were under-utilizing primary care, over-utilizing hospital services, and were not particularly compliant with care.

With that population, we saw a lot of opportunity that a care management program could help address. In general, diabetes is a condition that lends itself to accepting a helping hand, to help people understand their condition and address the medical and social issues so they can manage that condition more effectively.

The program has been tremendously successful. We expanded it this year to include wellness coaches based at all of our delivery networks’ main campuses as well. These coaches work with a lower risk population and are available to any health system employee that wants to work with a coach to set care goals and then meet with the coach monthly or quarterly to track improvements against those goals. This expansion is because we’ve seen such positive results from this program.

Source: 3 Embedded Care Coordination Models to Manage Diverse High-Risk, High-Cost Patients across the Continuum examines YNHHS's three models of embedded care coordination that deliver value while managing care across time, across people, and across the entire continuum of care. In this 30-page resource, Amanda Skinner, executive director for clinical integration and population health at Yale New Haven Health System, and Dr. Vivian Argento, executive director for geriatric and palliative care services at Bridgeport Hospital, present a trio of on-site care models crafted by YNHHS to manage three distinct populations.

2015 Healthcare Headlines: Top Stories Trace Route to Value-Based Reimbursement and Care

December 28th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

Month by month, the industry's top stories confirmed that value-based innovations and collaborations are here to stay.

A look back at the year's top healthcare stories captures the industry's commitment to enhance the quality and efficiency of care delivered while reining in cost. Nearly all of HIN's most-read stories fell into one of two categories: announcements of new value-based models or pilots, or results from existing quality-focused initiatives.

Here are the stories that captured the attention of healthcare executives in 2015:

HHS Announces Timetable, Goals for Medicare Value-Based Reimbursement
Medicare kicks off 2015 with the rollout of an ambitious multi-year agenda for a shift to value-based reimbursement and alternative payment models.

Cigna Collaborative Care Reduced Avoidable ER Visits by 16 Percent
The February release of Cigna’s second-year results from a collaborative care initiative with Granite Healthcare Network documented significant progress in improved health and affordability.

2015 Hospital Market Will Hasten Transition to Value-Based Payment Business Model
The early 2015 economic outlook for the hospital industry continued to favor the largest, most geographically diverse health systems in the market, according to this January 2015 forecast from BDC Advisors.

Medicare Discharge Planning Proposed Rule: More Focus on Patient Preferences, Follow-Up Care and Communication
CMS proposed in October a revision of discharge planning requirements that hospitals, including long-term care hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities, critical access hospitals, and home health agencies, must meet in order to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Senate's Repeal of Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate Strengthens Move Toward Value-Based Physician Reimbursement
April 2015 saw the U.S. Senate's landmark repeal of the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Bill, otherwise known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), a mechanism used to calculate Medicare payments to physicians.

One-Fifth to Launch 'Next Generation ACO' in 2015
Twenty percent of healthcare organizations plan to participate in CMS’s new ‘Next Generation ACO' model in the coming year, according to 2015 Accountable Care Organization metrics compiled in May.

8 Wellmark Medicare ACOs Saved $17 Million in 2014, Boosted Quality by 8%
September saw the release of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s 2014 Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Shared Savings model data, in which eight participating ACOs improved their overall quality scores by 8 percent and saved more than $17 million during 2014.

CMS Launches New ACO Dialysis Model
CMS announced in October its Comprehensive ESRD Care (CEC) Model, designed specifically for beneficiaries with ESRD and built on lessons learned from other models and programs with ACOs, including the Pioneer ACO Model and the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Final Rule for Joint Replacement Bundled Payments Favors Composite Quality Score
In November, CMS finalized its Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model, set to begin on April 1, 2016, which will hold hospitals accountable for the quality of care they deliver to Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries for hip and knee replacements and/or other major leg procedures from surgery through recovery.

Geisinger Pilots Patient Experience 'Warranty' for Select Surgeries
The Pennsylvania health system generated headlines in November with the launch of its innovative ProvenExperience™ warranty, a program that keeps the patient experience front and center by offering refunds to patients undergoing select surgical procedures whose expectations weren't met based on kindness and compassion.

To stay abreast of the latest healthcare headlines in 2016, subscribe free to HIN's Healthcare Business Weekly Update.