This year, interested physicians will participate in Medicare’s first ever pay-for-performance program. Legislation passed in late 2006 calls for a voluntary Medicare quality reporting program that financially rewards physicians reporting on specific quality measures. Those physicians may receive a bonus of 1.5% of their total Medicare payments during the reporting period. This adds a pay-for-performance component to the current Physician Voluntary Reporting Program (PVRP) that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established in January 2006.
“Medicare is really serious about improving quality of care for beneficiaries, and they’re committed to pay for performance as the way to go about it,” says Patrick Torcson, MD, MMM, FACP, medical director, Hospital Medicine, St. Tammany Parish Hospital, Covington, La.
Performance Measures in the Works
The pay-for-performance quality reporting program will use the 66 unique clinical measures CMS announced in December 2006, with additional modifications to be made through April 2007 using a consensus process.
“From looking at the proposed list of 66 performance measures, we’ve identified seven that are going to be available to hospitalists to report,” says Dr. Torcson. “The seven involve stroke and [myocardial infarction] care.”
Most of the internal medicine-related measures of the 16 included in the original PVRP were designed for an outpatient, office-based practice, and that seems true of the expanded list as well.
The current 66 measures are slightly more relevant to the hospital setting and can potentially be reported by hospitalists, as Dr. Torcson specified. Specifically, quality measures have been added for giving beta-blockers upon admission (quality measure #29) and for stroke and stroke rehabilitation (quality measures #31-#36).
Other measures are expected to be added before the July implementation date, and some may be reportable by hospitalists. These include creation of an advance care plan (#47) and measures for emergency medicine services (#54-#59).
“Medicare plans to have specific performance measures for each of the 39 specialties that they recognize,” explains Dr. Torcson. “Hospital medicine is not yet a CMS-recognized specialty; we’re typically lumped under general internal medicine.”
You can view all the measures at www.cms.hhs.gov/PVRP/01_overview.asp.
How the Program Will Work
The initial reporting period set by the legislation is July 1 through December 31, 2007, and there will be an enrollment period before that for physicians who wish to participate. When a physician enrolls in the program, she will identify which measures apply to her. At that point, CMS will determine if a measure applies.
If less than three quality measures apply for a physician, then 80% reporting on those applicable measures is required to be eligible for the bonus. If four or more measures apply, the physician must report on at least three in order to be eligible.