Friday, December 15, 2017

OCMA Blog

Webinar: Coordinated Care Initiative: Key Information for O.C. Physicians

The Coordinated Care Initiative:  Key Information for Orange County Physicians occurs several times:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016, 12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m.

Please register for the date and time that works best for you:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/6054087317243662596

Program Description:  This webinar is designed for physicians and will cover the Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI) and the programs within the initiative including Cal MediConnect, known as OneCare Connect in Orange County.

The CCI is a new program designed to help provide extra support for low-income seniors and people with disabilities in California, including those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal.

Webinar topics include:  

1.  Overview:  How the CCI is changing health care for dual eligible patients;

2. Continuity of Care:  How to keep seeing your patients if they join OneCare Connect;

3. Care Coordination:  How OneCare Connect can help support physicians in coordinating care for patients, including in-home and community based services;

4. Billing Processes: How billing works under the CCI for patients who join OneCare Connect and for those who remain in  fee-for-service Medicare and join the CCI for Medi-Cal services.

Speakers:  Rita Cruz Gallegos & Joe Garbanzos, Provider Outreach Specialists, Harbage Consulting; and Laura Grigoruk, Director of Direct Networks - CalOptima.

 


ALERT: Legislation aimed at repealing the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) was approved in the Senate Finance & the House Ways and Means Committees

Bipartisan House-Senate Medicare payment reform legislation passes out of committee; Congress includes 3 month patch to stop the 25% SGR cuts in budget deal

The Orange County Medical Association (OCMA) and California Medical Association (CMA) are pleased that legislation aimed at repealing the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) was approved in the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday, December 12, 2013. 
 
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee this week unveiled revised legislative proposals to repeal the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) and establish a new payment system. Both committees have said that they expect to "mark-up" (pass out of committee) the legislation on Thursday, December 12.  The changes they have made since the initial October "discussion draft" are all positive and address most of the issues raised by the California Medical Association (CMA).
 
Yesterday's committee votes came just before Congress recesses for the holiday, pushing any further action into 2014. Congress has also included a three-month SGR patch-with a 0.5 percent payment raise-as part of the federal budget agreement, which will give lawmakers a little more time to finalize the long-term Medicare payment reforms. The bills are being passed out of Committee without funding sources. When lawmakers return in January, they will begin to marry the funding sources to the Medicare payment overhaul legislation.   
 
"With the drastically reduced price tag of $116 billion, Congress must seize the opportunity to set Medicare on a more stable course for current and future generations of physicians and patients," says CMA President Richard Thorp, M.D. "While the bill still needs work, CMA supports moving the bills through committee to continue to move the process forward. This is the most progress Congress has made on Medicare physician payment reform in a decade and we need to keep the momentum going."  
 
The revised proposals will first and foremost eliminate the badly broken SGR formula that has plagued policymakers and physicians for more than a decade. The legislation also establishes two payment tracks. A fee-for-service payment track coupled with a streamlined reporting program, called the Value Based Performance Program. The bill provides substantial physicians bonuses up to 12 percent. It also includes penalties. (However, existing law includes 8-9 percent penalties for non-participation next year without any bonus potential.)
  
The second payment track allows physicians to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to establish alternative payment models, such as medical homes, that will provide 5 percent bonus payments. To help small practices transition to these models, they have provided a transition period and up to $125 million in funding assistance. The legislation also requires CMS to ensure that the new payment systems work for small practices as well as surgeons/specialists and primary care. 

The legislation meets many of CMA's long-standing goals for Medicare reform, including:

  • Repeal of the SGR;
  • Automatic payment updates before the new models begin;
  • Incentives to participate in new payment models (5 percent bonus);
  • A phase-in period and funding assistance to help small practices transition to new payment models;
  • Retention of a fee-for-service program;
  • Elimination of the current penalties and a consolidation of the current quality reporting programs (Physician Quality Reporting Program-PQRS, EHR Meaningful Use, and the Value Modifier) into a single program with a substantial new bonus pool; 
  • Improvements to the Value Modifier;  
  • Payment for complex chronic care management;
  • Timely data feedback for physicians;
  • Ensures that physicians develop the quality measures and are widely consulted on the new payment programs;
  • Update for the Medicare physician payment localities (California GPCI fix).

In response to CMA's comments, the committees made the following additional improvements:

  • Provides increased funding assistance ($125 million) to ALL small practices, not just rural and HPSA practices;
  • Allows a longer time-frame for physicians to prepare to participate in the new models;
  • Gives special consideration to small practices when developing the clinical improvement activities,  the value modifier methodology and the alternative payment models;
  • Requires the fee-for-service value-based program to reduce administrative burden on physicians and gives credit for improvement rather than just meeting a benchmark;
  • Ensures the Value Modifier will be cost and risk-adjusted;
  • Requires CMS to develop models that are attainable for specialists and surgeons, as well as primary care physicians, and small practices; 
  • Allows physicians to partially qualify for the new alternative payment models;
  • Expands the "total cost of care" data available to physicians to help physicians more efficiently manage their practices;
  • A study to examine total Medicare program cost savings (Part A, Part B and Part D) achieved by physicians.
  • Allows physicians to report data on the group level, including virtual groups, to improve the accuracy of the data.
  • Improvements to the Relative Value Unit process; 
  • Ensures that any practice guidelines or payment policies do not establish a standard of care for medical liability actions.

In a last-minute change, the Ways and Means bill now provides a stabilizing 0.5 percent automatic update each year for three years until the new payment models begin. The Ways and Means bill also includes the California geographic payment locality update ("GPCI fix"), which would transition the outdated payment localities to the current and regularly updated metropolitan statistical areas used to calculate payments to hospitals. This transition would take place over 6 years and guarantees that rural counties are not negatively impacted by the change. This GPCI fix would provide an additional $400 million to California physicians over 10 years.

The Senate Finance Committee bill does not, however include an automatic payment update in the first three years. The Senate Chairmen want to wait until the Congressional Budget Office scores the legislation and they negotiate funding sources before adding any payment updates. The Senate bill also does not include the California GPCI fix, as the committee has stated it wants to keep state-specific issues out of the committee mark-up. However, both Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch have pledged to address the CMA GPCI issue during the January negotiations.  


Upcoming CalOptima Provider Forum on Duals Demonstration

On July 10, the OCMA, CalOptima and the Health Networks in the CalOptima health care delivery system co-hosted a forum for physicians to learn about the contracting options for the upcoming "duals demonstration."  The demonstration will entail enrolling the dual-eligible (Medicare/Medi-Cal) beneficiaries in Orange County into CalOptima. OCMA has been advocating that physicians and their dual-eligible patients have multiple options for participating in the demonstration, including an option that allows physicians to contract directly with CalOptima. 

 

On Wednesday, August 14, CalOptima will host another forum which will include the Health Networks to once again reach out to physicians and educate them on the various contracting options the CalOptima board of directors will consider at their next board meeting.  If you missed the July 10th forum, OCMA strongly encourages you to attend the forum on August 14.  It is imperative that CalOptima and the Health Networks hear from the physicians that are caring for the dual-eligible patients in Orange County. The invitation to the August 14 forum is attached.

 

Note: this forum will be held at CalOptima. See invitation for full details.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Announcement: Medicare SGR and GPCI Bill Clears Committee

On Wednesday, July 31, the House Energy & Commerce Committee voted UNANIMOUSLY to approve H.R. 2810, the bill to repeal and replace the Medicare SGR. Included in that bill is a California Medicare locality reform (known as the "California GPCI Fix") which will update payments for the urban physicians in Locality 99 and Locality 3 while holding the rural physicians in these localities harmless from payment cuts. 

 

OCMA and CMA are pleased with this herculean effort to move Medicare SGR legislation on a bipartisan basis as well as update the outdated Medicare physician payment localities.  CMA physicians have cleared the first hurdle in a long legislative process. The Medicare SGR and GPCI Locality  issues will now be taken up by the House Ways & Means Committee as well as the Senate Finance Committee.   

 

While there are several aspects of the bill that concern CMA, including the downside penalties and lack of adequate updates, the bill meets many of the goals that CMA advocated to Congress to eliminate the annual threat of nearly 30% SGR payment cuts, 5 years of stable updates, a continuation of the Fee-for-Service (FFS) program with opportunities for updates, and incentives to help physicians transition to new payment and delivery models. There is still much work to be done on the entire bill and Congress recognizes that.  

 

If you would like further details on this matter, please contact OCMA.

Announcement: Noridian Transition Dates Set

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that the cutover to the new Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) for Jurisdiction E (including California) will begin in August. The Part A cutover will be August 26 and the Part B cutover will be September 16.

 

CMA has and will continue to work closely with CMS and the new contractor to ensure a smooth transition.

 

Jurisdiction E (previously called Jurisdiction 1) covers California, Nevada and Hawaii, as well as the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Jurisdiction E includes over 3.5 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, 500 Medicare hospitals and 86,500 physicians. MACs process Part A and Part B claims and perform other critical Medicare operational functions, including enrolling, educating and auditing Medicare providers.

 

To help physicians understand what is changing, Noridian is offering a series of Implementation 101 and EDI Support Services web-based workshops. Noridian is also holding in person "Meet and Greet" workshops throughout the state.


 Important Dates:

August 26, 2013 - Part A implementation

September 16, 2013 - Part B implementation

Orange County Meet and Greet:


July 9 - July 11

Embassy Suites Anaheim South

11767 Harbor Blvd

Garden Grove, CA 92840

Registration is required to attend these workshops. Specific times and registration information are available on the Noridian website: 

https://www.noridianmedicare.com/je/schedule.html

    

Other programs will be added as they progress through the transition. CMA encourages physicians to join the Noridian mailing list to stay apprised of changes.


If you have any questions or concerns on how this might impact your practice, members may contact OCMA's Physician Advocate, Mitzi Young:

Phone: 888-236-0267

Email: myoung@cmanet.org 


Sequestration FAQ: How will the cuts affect California physicians?

Across-the-board federal budget cuts were triggered on Friday, March 1, because Congress failed to come to an agreement on how to reduce the federal deficit. Although it is still possible that Congress will reach some sort of a compromise before most of the cuts take effect on April 1, physicians should prepare for a 2 percent reduction in reimbursement from the Medicare program beginning in April.

 

The 2 percent Medicare "sequestration" cuts are part of the $1.2 trillion in cuts required by the Sequestration Transparency Act, part of a deal worked out to end last year's debt-ceiling crisis. The cuts are evenly split between defense spending and discretionary domestic spending. The mandatory Medicare cuts will result in a savings of $11 billion in 2013. Medicaid is exempt from the cuts.

 

The California Medical Association (CMA) continues to fight these Medicare cuts.While CMA understands the need to address our nation's budget deficit, CMA is urging Congress to take a more targeted approach than arbitrary across-the-board cuts that will harm public health and negatively impact access to care for children, seniors and military families.

 

For more information, see "Sequestration FAQ: How will the cuts affect California physicians?" This FAQ answers the most commonly asked questions about the sequestration cuts as they relate to health care. This document will be regularly updated as additional details become available.


OCMA Member Update on Dual Eligibles Demonstration Project

February 25, 2013

 

Over the last 8 months as CalOptima has been building the foundation for the duals demonstration in Orange County, the OCMA has worked consistently and diligently to represent the interests of physicians and their patients.  The critical decision during this early stage of the demonstration was CalOptima board approval of a health care delivery system to serve the duals patients.

Click here for detailed background information.

 

The OCMA strongly advocated that individual physicians, currently serving the duals patients, be included in the delivery system.  A number of these physicians see their duals patients through Medicare Fee-for-Service, and it is important that duals patients continue to have access to their current physicians.

 

OCMA sent a letter to the CalOptima CEO outlining the reasons for the individual contract option.  This letter is the culmination of months of work and summarizes the many points we carried to individual CalOptima board members and their senior staff.  

Click here for the letter to sent to the CalOptima CEO on behalf of OCMA. 

 

We are very pleased to inform our members that the CalOptima board approved a health care delivery system that will include the individual physicians.  At the February meeting of the board, they considered a number of options and, in the end, agreed to develop a network model that will offer an individual contract option to physicians.  

Click here for the approved actions that were passed by the CalOptima board.

 

There remain a number of other important decisions relative to the duals demonstration, but we have achieved the major milestone noted above.  The OCMA will continue to be an active participant in the duals demonstration, decision-making processes and will continue to update the membership as we reach other critical decision points.


Congress stops Medicare cuts for one year as part of fiscal cliff legislation

HR 8 is a prime example of the need for physicians to speak with a unified voice through your local and state medical association. Clearly, the work is not over as these are merely temporary fixes. A strong physician perspective is critical in further debates. To the members of OCMA/CMA, thank you for your support and participation in important efforts such as this - it does make a difference. If you are not a member of OCMA/CMA, we need to add your voice to strengthen our advocacy on behalf of doctors and the patients you serve. 


Congress on January 1 passed HR 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act, narrowly averting the so-called "fiscal cliff." The bill includes a one-year Medicare fee-for-service physician payment freeze, meaning the 26.5 percent sustainable growth rate (SGR) cut has been averted, for now. The 2 percent sequestration cuts have also been deferred for two months.

 

The one-year fix comes with a $25 billion price tag. The cost of physician payment reform has been growing over the years as Congress continues to enact frequent short-terms fixes. As recently as 2005 the cost of permanent reform would have been $48 billion, but today it is estimated to be nearly $300 billion over the next 10 years. If action is not taken soon, the cost will continue to escalate to $500 billion in only a few short years.

 

The one-year freeze will be paid for with cuts to the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) new CO-OP program and other health care programs ($15 billion of the cuts impacting hospitals). At CMA's urging, the ACA's Medicaid increase for primary care physicians was not used to pay for this temporary fix, despite earlier attempts to do so.

The Medicare fix is being paid for by:

  • Cuts to the ACA's CO-OP program (unobligated funds)
  • Extending the statute of limitations for recouping overpayments.
  • Adjusting the equipment utilization rate for Advanced imaging services.
  • Rebasing end stage renal disease payments based on utilization of drugs.
  • Equalizing stereotactic radiology hospital outpatient services with physician services.
  • Rebasing of Disproportionate Share Hospital payments.
  • Reducing multiple procedure payments when more than one therapy procedure is provided on the same day.
  • Eliminating funding for the Medicare improvement fund.
  • Eliminating the ACA long term care (LTC) CLASS act. (But establishes a LTC commission.)
  • Adjusting Medicare Advantage payments to account for differences in coding practices between fee-for-service and managed care risk adjustment formulas.

Importantly, the bill also lays the groundwork for an alternative Medicare payment system by establishing data systems and a registry for reporting on quality that will help physicians.


What does this mean for physician claims?

 

Because federal law requires Medicare contractors to hold claims for 14 days before releasing payment, there should be little if any impact on physicians' cash flow. Although there has been no official word from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, claims for services provided in the early days of 2013 will likely be processed under the new 2013 fee schedule. Palmetto, California's Medicare contractor, should have the new fee schedule posted on its website in about 10 days.

 

The 2013 fee schedule will not be exactly the same as the 2012 fee schedule. Although Congress stopped the 26.5 percent SGR cut, there were other components of the fee schedule formula that affect payment that may have changed, such as the relative value units (RVUs).

 

Physicians have the option of holding claims and submitting them after the new fee schedule is released. If you choose to submit claims in the interim, the California Medical Association (CMA) suggests that both participating and non-participating physicians bill their usual and customary fees-for-services to Medicare. Billing at your customary fee ensures that Medicare pays the highest amount possible when the claim is processed.


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