CMS Proposes Sweeping Changes to Restore Doctor-Patient Relationship

Talk to any healthcare provider and one of the things you likely will hear is that they spend too much time on paperwork and not enough time with patients.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says it wants to change that. Earlier this month, the agency that administers the Medicare program proposed what it called “historic changes” that would increase the amount of time that doctors and other healthcare professionals spend with their patients, by reducing the amount of paperwork they encounter when billing Medicare. This would be accomplished, in part, by allowing providers to use their electronic health records to “document clinically meaningful information, instead of information that is only for billing purposes.”

The 1,473-page proposed rule, part of the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP), also aims to promote access to telemedicine by establishing Medicare payment for when beneficiaries conduct virtual visits. The QPP proposal focuses on measures that most significantly impact health outcomes and encourage information sharing among providers, thus allowing those records to follow patients throughout the healthcare system.

The QPP proposal also would make changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) “Promoting Interoperability” performance category to support greater electronic health record (HER) interoperability and patient access to their health information, as well as to align this clinician program with the proposed new “Promoting Interoperability” program for hospitals.

CMS estimates that if the proposals are adopted and finalized, providers could save an estimated 51 hours a year if 40 percent of their patients are on Medicare and would collectively save an estimated 29,305 hours, and approximately $2.6 million in reduced administrative costs in calendar year 2019.

We say “if the proposals are adopted and finalized,” because these are just proposals and CMS is looking for input. Public comments on the proposed rules are due by September 10, 2018.

CMS noted that the proposed changes are the result of extensive public feedback it has received on the need to streamline documentation requirements for physician services known as “evaluation and management” visits, as well as a need to support greater access to care using telecommunications technology.

The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale can help you better understand any changes coming down the road. If you have any questions contact us at 305-358-4500 or send us an email to info@vitalehealthlaw.com.

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