More on CY 2015 Medicare Payment Rules

As part of the CMS proposed Medicare physician payment rule for calendar year (CY) 2015, the agency said that ACOs (accountable care organizations) would have to meet 4 new measures for quality reporting, including ones focusing on avoiding admissions due to multiple chronic conditions. The proposal would also award bonus points for improved quality over time as an incentive for increased payments. The same proposed rule also included a requirement for physicians providing chronic care management services to use an electronic health record or other health information exchange platform to ensure that patient information is electronically accessible to other providers. The rule also proposed that Medicare cover the following telemedicine services for: psychotherapy; annual wellness visits; and prolonged services office visits. The proposal would impact the Sunshine Act rules by seeking to eliminate the specified exemption related to continuing medical education (CME) programs funded by drug and device manufacturers and instead rely upon more general exemptions.

Million Hearts Contest

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced a contest with monetary awards, the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Innovations for Improving Hypertension Challenge, which is designed to identify practices that use clinical decision support to achieve the most clinically successful evidence-based blood pressure treatment protocols. The agency intends to urge widespread use of the successful models. The two-phase submissions are due by October 6 and October 27 respectively.

FDA Issues

Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Angus King (I-ME) sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking the agency for changes to proposed regulations under the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) of 2012 which allows the agency to destroy drugs with a value of $2,500 or less when they are prohibited from being re-imported. They maintain that the proposed rules “present a health threat to hundreds of thousands of Americans who receive their drugs from safe, licensed and legal pharmacies in Canada.” They asked the FDA to require that patients be notified six months in advance that their drugs could be destroyed and to phase-in the final regulations over two five-year periods. The FDA also gave notice that it will extend until August 7th the comment period on their previous notice regarding opioid packaging, storage and disposable system design and functionality. Finally, at a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing the Director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research testified that the agency does not need new legislation to bring patient perspectives into the regulatory process to help speed the development of medicines despite views to the contrary by some disease organizations.

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