Your Government at Work

CMS Triggers Disaster Waivers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) will automatically apply waivers to support beneficiaries and clinicians affected by the Alaska earthquake and the California wildfires.  Secretary Azar most recently exercised his authority under the Public Health Service Act to declare a public health emergency in Alaska on December 3, 2018.  For more information on how CMS is responding to current emergencies nationwide, click here.

CMS Publishes Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program Results

CMS has published the results of the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program for fiscal year 2019.  Under federal law, CMS is required to subtract a portion of the base operating DRG payment amounts that would otherwise be due to participating hospitals, and then redistribute the savings back to participating hospitals in a manner that reflects their performance.  Performance is measured against published quality and cost measures.  CMS estimates that approximately $1.9 billion will be available for value-based incentive payments in fiscal year 2019.  For more information, please refer to this press release.

Joint Commission Will Begin Public Reporting of C-Section Rates by July 2020

The Joint Commission will begin public reporting of hospitals that have consistently high cesarean birth rates.  This is planned to occur on Quality Check by July 1, 2020, using data collected for calendar years 2018 and 2019.  Although the Joint Commission began to collect data on this measure in 2010, it had deferred public reporting for several reasons.  The Joint Commission recently reconsidered its position after it noticed no evidence of overall trends toward improvement.  For more information, please see here.

Federal Agencies Issue Report on Reforming America’s Healthcare System

The Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Labor, the Federal Trade Commission, and the White House, has issued a report discussing the influence of state and federal regulations on choice and competition in health care markets.  This report emphasizes the burden of mandates and regulations on healthcare costs and recommends increased competition as a mechanism for enhancing value in health care.  Among other things, it recommends a “consumer-driven” approach to healthcare that promotes transparency and works to encourage customers to shop for and select lower-cost providers.  To review the report in full, please click here.