Public Policy

How policy illustrates the value of SHM membership

A force multiplier for the Society’s effect on policy decisions


 

Federal programs can be enormously complicated, and the Medicare value-based payment programs, such as the Physician Quality Reporting System, the physician value-based payment modifier, and the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, are no exception.

It can be a challenge to navigate the rules, to identify how and which measures to report, and to determine how to integrate those requirements into your practice. Furthermore, the feedback from these programs to providers can be difficult to read and interpret.

Part of the value of being a member of the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) is having another set of eyes – particularly those that spend a significant amount of time immersed in federal regulations – to parse the policy-practice nexus. SHM hears from members all over the country, many in different practice types and with different policy needs. This knowledge can be shared, both with other members and with policymakers. A recent example highlights the power of this relationship.

Your membership contributes directly to the advocacy efforts of SHM, and the engagement of members with SHM staff on policy issues is a force multiplier for the effect SHM can have on policy decisions. There is a lot of value for belonging to SHM, and sometimes, we can put an exact number on it.

A solo-practicing hospitalist called seeking perspective on why he received a letter indicating he would be receiving a penalty in 2018 for failing the requirements of Physician Quality Reporting System reporting. This hospitalist had successfully reported on as many measures as he possibly could, so he could not understand why he would be receiving a penalty.

All told, a different read of the feedback reports, and some strategic questions from SHM staff, helped this hospitalist understand why he was being penalized and how, in this case, he could ask Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for reconsideration. Upon second review by CMS, the penalties were overturned, and this provider should save nearly $30,000 in Medicare payments in 2018.

SHM helped the provider by being a sounding board and by sharing information learned from experiences other members had had with these programs. In turn, the knowledge gained from this interaction will be used to fine-tune SHM’s educational materials and outreach efforts about these programs. It has also already contributed to advocacy efforts with CMS policymakers regarding how they can improve the programs to be more transparent and equitable. The learning is shared in both directions.

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