Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


CMS to Allow Choice in Level and Pace of MACRA Participation

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that health care providers will be allowed to choose the level and pace at which they comply with implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act’s (MACRA) Quality Payment Program, which is set to start on January 1, 2017. Eligible physicians and other clinicians will have multiple options for participation to ensure that they do not receive a negative payment adjustment in 2019. Under the first option, providers can test the Quality Payment Program. As long as some data is reported, providers will avoid a negative payment adjustment and help ensure that their systems are prepared for broader participation in 2018. Providers also have the option of participating for only part of the calendar year. Through reporting for a reduced number of days, physicians could still qualify for a small payment adjustment. Those clinicians who are fully prepared can choose to participate for the full calendar year, which might result in a modest positive payment adjustment. Finally, providers have the option of participating in an advanced alternative payment model (APM) in 2017. Other details about CMS’ plans for the Quality Payment Program will be described in the final rule, expected to be released in November.

Zika Update

The Senate has again rejected a spending bill that included funding to combat the Zika virus on a 52-46 procedural vote, with 60 votes required to end debate on the conference report and move forward on the legislation. Both Democrat and Independent senators unanimously voted against the $1.1 billion
package written by the GOP due to inclusion of language regarding Planned Parenthood. The bill passed the House in June but has now failed in the Senate three times. Zika funding is now expected to be included in the must-pass continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government later this month, and some
Senate Republicans have hinted that the Planned Parenthood provisions will be removed. Both Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have promised to address Zika funding before the end of September. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it will provide $350,000 to the American Academy of Pediatrics to expand its capacity to help children affected by Zika. The money will be used to provide technical assistance to clinicians treating children in areas affected by the virus. As of September 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the current number of Zika cases in the U.S. and its territories stands at 18,833.

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 -  2019

 +  2018