CMS brings MU, quality reporting in line

August 8, 2014 in Medical Technology

The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services issued a final rule this week updating Medicare payment policies and rates for patient stays at acute care and long-term care hospitals for fiscal year 2015, emphasizing better hospital patient outcomes and slowing the growth of costs in long-term health care.

As part of its efforts to improve patient care, the rule made several changes to quality reporting programs that rely on electronic health records. The CMS said the rule’s changes to Medicare quality incentive programs will continue to encourage high quality care while decreasing the time and effort it takes for providers to report the information.

The changes will align reporting requirements in both the EHR Incentive Program and the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program. The final rule revises measures for the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting, LTCH Quality Reporting and PPS-Exempt Cancer Hospital Quality Reporting Programs. 

Reporting dates for the Hospital IQR Program and the EHR Incentive Program currently have different reporting and submission periods for electronic clinical quality measures, with hospitals reporting data to the Hospital IQR Program based on calendar year deadlines while the Medicare EHR Incentive Program is based on fiscal year deadlines.

“This proposed change would also move us closer to meeting our commitment to align quality measurement and reporting among our programs,” CMS explained.

CMS said it will increase payments that acute-care and long-term care hospitals receive from Medicare for inpatient care. The payment rate update to general acute care hospitals will be 1.4 percent in FY 2015, according to CMS. The rate update for long term care hospitals will be 0.9 percent. The difference in the update is accounted for by different statutory and regulatory provisions that apply to each system, CMS said.  

“Today’s policies further support our efforts to continue improving the care our Medicare beneficiaries receive while also cutting the growth of Medicare costs,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a prepared statement. “This final rule builds on our recent efforts to improve hospital performance while giving hospitals the clarity and resources they need to deliver the best possible patient care.”

CMS said the final rule will be published in the Aug. 22 Federal Register and the provisions are slated to kick-in on Oct. 1.

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