KENTUCKY REGIONAL EXTENSION CENTER

Kentucky REC News

QPP YEAR SIX WEBINAR JULY 20: 2022 COST CATEGORY

The increased Cost Category weighting has made this category equal to Quality in importance and often one of the most challenging to understand. While CMS has elected to issue the hardship exception to all clinicians for the past two program years due to Covid-19, we don’t expect to see that blanket application for Program Year 2022. This could be the first year for many providers to be evaluated on any one of the 25 cost measures available for eligible clinician and group scoring.

Join us on July 20th as we review some of the new measures, explain the attribution and evaluation process, and discuss how the cost category can be reweighted this year and in years to come.

QPP Year 6 Webinar: Optimizing Cost for Alignment*
Wednesday, July 20, 2022 @ 12PM ET

*This webinar is for Kentucky REC contracted QPP clients only. If you are interested in this topic and would like to learn more about becoming a client, please contact us at (859) 323-3090 or email us at KYRec@uky.edu. We aim to be your trusted healthcare advisor!

SAVE THE DATE! HYBRID DEC 8 2022 ANNUAL CONFERENCE – WITH KHIE

SAVE THE DATE! DECEMBER 8, 2022 – Kentucky REC Annual Conference – With KHIE

During our day together, we’ll discuss quality initiatives, HIPAA, Telehealth, and more to ensure that clinicians, hospital and ambulatory administrators, and clinic staff are well prepared for the challenges of modern healthcare. We’ll have both in person and virtual options.

Details, Agenda, and Registration Coming Soon!

Questions? Contact us at Kentucky REC or call us at 859-323-3090.

QPP YEAR 6 WEBINAR JUNE 16: OPTIMIZING IMPROVEMENT ACTIVITIES FOR ALIGNMENT

We are nearly halfway through QPP Performance Year 6 and practices are working hard to maximize their performance in the QPP. Our next client webinar will focus on the Improvement Activities (IA) category. Join us to learn how your practice can optimize your performance, and align improvement activities with the work you are already doing.

Our panel of knowledgeable advisors will discuss how to select activities that are meaningful to your practice. We will also review IA changes for 2022, documentation requirements, and timelines to help you reach optimal IA scoring.

QPP Year 6 Webinar: Optimizing Improvement Activities for Alignment*
Thursday, June 16, 2022 @ 12PM ET

*This webinar is for Kentucky REC contracted QPP clients only. If you are interested in this topic and would like to learn more about becoming a client, please contact us at (859) 323-3090 or email us at KYRec@uky.edu. We aim to be your trusted healthcare advisor!

QPP NEWS! CMS REWEIGHTING 2021 MIPS COST PERFORMANCE CATEGORY

From CMS:

CMS Reweighting 2021 MIPS Cost Performance Category

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recognizes the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic public health emergency (PHE) continued to have on clinicians and the services they provided in the 2021 performance period.

Due to COVID-19’s impact on cost measures, we’re reweighting the cost performance category from 20% to 0% for the 2021 performance period. The 20% cost performance category weight will be redistributed to other performance categories in accordance with § 414.1380(c)(2)(ii)(E). Please see the table below for reweighting scenarios.

Why CMS is Reweighting the MIPS Cost Performance Category for 2021

Cost was already reweighted to 0% for all individual MIPS eligible clinicians, even if data were submitted for other performance categories, due to the automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances (EUC) policies under § 414.1380(c)(2)(i)(A)(6) and § 414.1380(c)(2)(i)(C). Our analysis of the underlying data for the 2021 performance period shows similar results at the group- and individual-level across measures. As a result, we believe that reweighting shouldn’t depend on whether you choose to report as a group or individual.

Given these circumstances and in accordance with § 414.1380(c)(2), we’ll assign a weight of 0% to the cost performance category for the 2021 performance period and redistribute the prescribed weight of 20% to another performance category or categories.

Specifically, we don’t believe we can reliably calculate scores for some of the cost measures that would adequately capture and reflect the performance of MIPS eligible clinicians based on the following reasons, as shown by our analysis of the cost performance category data for the 2021 performance period:

• Most measures have higher observed and risk-adjusted costs at the episode-level. This indicates that risk adjustment at the episode-level doesn’t entirely account for differences in resource use, particularly for broader measures or measures that are clinically proximate to respiratory disease and COVID-19.

• There’s less of an effect at the provider-level for most measures where testing shows that scores don’t appear to be adversely impacted by higher case-loads of episodes with a recent or concurrent COVID-19 diagnosis. However, there are a small number of measures where scores may be adversely affected by the volume of episodes with a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Please note that starting with the 2022 performance period, instead of reweighting the entire cost performance category, individual cost measures can be suppressed if the data used to calculate the score was impacted by significant changes during the performance period, such that calculating the cost measure would lead to misleading or inaccurate results. This provision allowing greater flexibility was finalized in the CY 2022 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule.

Clinicians don’t need to take any action as a result of this decision because the cost performance category relies on administrative claims data.

MIPS Performance Category Weight Redistribution Policies Finalized for the 2021 Performance Period

The table below* illustrates the MIPS performance category weights and reweighting policies that apply to MIPS eligible clinicians, groups and virtual groups in the 2021 performance period.

*This table can be found at § 414.1380(c)(2)(ii)(E).

This reweighting of the cost performance category applies in addition to the extreme and uncontrollable circumstances (EUC) policies under § 414.1380(c)(2)(i)(A)(6) and § 414.1380(c)(2)(i)(C).

• Cost was already reweighted to 0% for all individual MIPS eligible clinicians, even if data were submitted for other performance categories, due to the automatic EUC policy.
• Cost will now be reweighted to 0% for all groups and virtual groups, even if they didn’t request reweighting through an EUC exception application.

As a reminder, under § 414.1380(c), if a MIPS eligible clinician is scored on fewer than 2 performance categories (meaning 1 performance category is weighted at 100% or all performance categories are weighted at 0%), they’ll receive a final score equal to the performance threshold and a neutral MIPS payment adjustment for the 2023 MIPS payment year.

Cost Data in Performance Feedback for 2021

We recognize that this is the second year that we’ve had to reweight the cost performance category due to COVID-19, and that clinicians need more insight into and familiarity with their performance in this category. To support this need, we’ll provide patient-level reports on the 2021 cost measures for which clinicians, groups and virtual groups met the case minimum. Patient-level reports will be available as part of the final performance feedback in August 2022.

Please note that we won’t include measure-level scoring information in performance feedback. As previously mentioned, we don’t believe we can reliably calculate scores for the cost measures that would adequately capture and reflect the performance of MIPS eligible clinicians.

Questions?

Please contact the Quality Payment Program at 1-866-288-8292 or by e-mail at: QPP@cms.hhs.gov. To receive assistance more quickly, consider calling during non-peak hours – before 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m. ET.
• Customers who are hearing impaired can dial 711 to be connected to a TRS Communications Assistant.

Contact the expert advisors at Kentucky REC for all your QPP, MIPS, and APM questions. We’re here to help: 859-323-3090.

QPP YEAR 6 WEBINAR MAY 19: OPTIMIZING PROMOTING INTEROPERABILITY

As your KY REC advisors partner with you and your practice to define your organizational goals for 2022 and beyond, it is critical to understand the impacts of programmatic changes to the Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Promoting Interoperability Category for 2022 and future program years. There is so much new for the PI category this year. We will discuss the 2022 MIPS PI category requirements, review options for Bi-directional HIE engagement and new requirements of SAFER guides and public health measures. We will provide team-based interventions in order to be successful in these performance based objectives.

For program year 2022, there are required public health measures that you need to act on in order to be prepared for the attestation season. Additionally, we will explain the SAFER guides and how they complement but do not replace your required security risk analysis. Join us for these important updates!

QPP Year 6 Webinar: Optimizing EHR Interoperability for Future Performance*
Thursday, May 19, 2021 @ 12PM ET

*This webinar is for Kentucky REC contracted QPP clients only. If you are interested in this topic and would like to learn more about becoming a client, please contact us at (859) 323-3090 or email us at KYRec@uky.edu. We aim to be your trusted healthcare advisor!

WANTING TO IMPROVE CHRONIC DISEASE OUTCOMES? KENTUCKY REC GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

Kentucky REC, in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Public Health, is working with practices statewide on improving health and outcomes for patients with chronic illnesses.
IMPROVE PEDIATRIC ASTHMA CARE
PRESENT — JUNE 30, 2023
  • Advisory support for Quality Improvement & Practice Tools
  • Access to Asthma Self-Management Education and Support Resources
  • Training opportunities for participating clinicians and staff
  • Financial support: $2,500 for participation now thru June 2023
PREDIABETES LEARNING COLLABORATIVE PILOT
JULY 1, 2022 — DEC 31, 2022
  • Receive monthly technical assistance, group monthly calls and quarterly webinars, with monthly reporting
  • Educate patients on Diabetes prevention, refer interested patients to National Diabetes Prevention Program classes
  • Conduct small tests of change using quality improvement methodology
  • Financial Support: Two $1500 quarterly practice payments
PREDIABETES LEARNING COLLABORATIVE
JANUARY 1, 2023 — DEC 31, 2023
  • Receive monthly technical assistance, group monthly calls and quarterly webinars, with monthly reporting
  • Educate patients on Diabetes prevention, refer interested patients to National Diabetes Prevention Program classes
  • Conduct small tests of change using quality improvement methodology
  • Financial Support: Receive $1500 quarterly practice payments
DIABETES LEARNING COLLABORATIVE 3
JANUARY 1, 2023 — DEC 31, 2023
  • Open to any practices, FQHCs or RHCs and Healthy Living with Diabetes teams
  • Attend three learning sessions, and monthly educational webinars
  • Do small tests of change (PDSA cycles) to improve outcomes for adult patients diagnosed with diabetes
  • Report monthly, attend summative congress
  • Receive 4 practice payments of $1,500
HYPERTENSION LEARNING COLLABORATIVE
JULY 1, 2022 — JUNE 30, 2023
  • Receive monthly technical assistance, monthly webinars and quarterly Learning Sessions, regular reporting
  • Educate patients on options for blood pressure screening, refer interested patients to Self-Measured Blood Pressure Monitoring at Local Health Department
  • Conduct small tests of change using quality improvement methodology
  • Financial Support: $1500 quarterly
BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER SCREENING PROJECT
JULY 1, 2022 — JUNE 30, 2023
  • Receive monthly technical assistance, report monthly (screening rate and additional data elements)
  • Conduct small tests of change using quality improvement methodology
  • Educate patients on options for breast and cervical screening
  • For patients interested refer for mammogram and complete pap
  • Financial Support: TBD based on clinic size
COLON CANCER SCREENING PROJECT
JULY 1, 2022 — JUNE 30, 2023
  • Receive monthly technical assistance and quarterly Learning Sessions, with monthly reporting
  • Educate patients on options for colon cancer screening
  • For patients interested, refer for FIT, Cologuard or Colonoscopy
  • Conduct small tests of change using quality improvement methodology
  • Financial Support: TBD based on clinic size

HERE is a flyer with all the grant opportunities listed.

HERE is a flyer featuring the Prediabetes Collaborative opportunities.

Contact us at Kentucky REC or 859-323-3090 to learn more.

QPP YEAR 6 WEBINAR APRIL 20: OPTIMIZING QUALITY REPORTING

As we settle into springtime in Kentucky, we see trees budding and flowers blooming. It’s a fresh new start to the annual cycle of growth all around us. At the Kentucky REC, our next webinar is focused on just that topic – growth. How can you best grow and prepare for the future of value-based healthcare to keep your organization healthy and sustainable?

As your KY REC advisors partner with you and your practice to define your organizational goals for 2022 and beyond, it is critical to understand the impacts of programmatic updates to the Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Quality Category for 2022 and future program years. Many quality flexibilities and bonuses that were provided to ECs and Groups in previous performance years, have been removed for this performance year and moving forward. Anticipating and mitigating the removal of this buffer will be crucial to meet objectives for future success. During this webinar we will explore the Quality Performance Category, focusing on scoring updates, benchmarking, measure selection, and a step-by step exploration of performance optimization.

QPP Year 6 Webinar: Optimizing Quality Reporting for Future Performance*
Wednesday, April 20, 2021 @ 12PM ET

*This webinar is for Kentucky REC contracted QPP clients only. If you are interested in this topic and would like to learn more about becoming a client, please contact us at (859) 323-3090 or email us at KYRec@uky.edu. We aim to be your trusted healthcare advisor!

WEBINAR MAY 25 – IMPORTANT HIPAA SECURITY SAFEGUARDS FOR CYBERATTACK DEFENSE

The number of healthcare data breaches reported in 2021 was record-breaking. Cyber-criminals continue to up their game at accessing and exfiltrating electronically protected health information. The HIPAA Security Rule sets forth safeguards that all covered entities must implement. Adopting these safeguards is a key factor for decreasing the likelihood of a cyberattack leading to a data breach and protecting your organization from an unfavorable outcome if ever audited or investigated.

Webinar – Important HIPAA Security Safeguards for Cyberattack Defense
Wednesday, May 25, 2021 12:00 PM ET

 

Call 859-323-3090 or email Kentucky REC HIPAA Privacy and Security experts with your questions, or if you want to talk to an advisor to schedule a Security Risk Analysis with us this year.

MARCH IS COLON CANCER AWARENESS MONTH!

From the CDC:

#ColorectalCancer is one of the most common cancers among men and women, but it can be prevented with routine screening. Schedule your screening today.

You can visit the CDC Colon Cancer Website HERE and the Spanish Language Resource Page HERE.

 

 

LEGISLATION INTRODUCED TO EXTEND TECHNICAL SUPPORT PROGRAM FOR CLINICIANS IN SMALL PRACTICES

Excerpted from Ark Valley Voice (an online news source in Central Colorado):

Ahead of SURS Program Expiration, Bennet, Cassidy, Welch, Burgess Introduce Legislation to Extend Technical Support Program for Clinicians in Small Practices

Posted by Jan Wondra | Feb 4, 2022

On Wednesday February 2nd, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) introduced the “Small Practice, Underserved, and Rural Support Program Extension Act” of 2022 (SURS Extension Act). The extension is important to medical practices throughout the nation, particularly in small practices, underserved areas, and rural areas.

The bipartisan, bicameral SURS Extension Act would reauthorize the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) technical assistance initiative for clinicians in small practices participating in the Quality Payment Program (QPP) known as the Small, Underserved, and Rural Support (SURS) program.

The SURS program is set to end on February 15, 2022 if Congress does not take action to extend it.

“Extending the SURS program is an important bipartisan effort that will help small providers in Colorado and across the nation,” said Bennet. “Our legislation will extend the program, helping small and many rural providers move towards quality payment models and, in turn, lowering costs and improving outcomes for patients. I’ll continue working with my colleagues to ensure we secure an extension of this vital program.”

“Small health care providers in rural and underserved areas don’t have the big administrative staffs to deal with complex Medicare reporting requirements,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This legislation gives support to small practice docs so they can focus on providing the best quality care for their communities.”

“This legislation extends much-needed help for the small and rural health care providers that are at the heart of Vermont’s health care system,” said Welch. “Extending the QPP-SURS program helps make sure that rural clinicians get the technical assistance they need to provide high quality affordable and accessible care to Medicare patients.”

“Our health care heroes have put it all on the line over the duration of this pandemic,” said Dr. Burgess. “We have a responsibility to support them in every way we can. This program has been successful in providing the technical support needed to navigate reporting requirements for rural and underserved physicians who want to transition to value-based care. We must provide this support to physicians who want to modernize their models of care.”

The SURS ACT was signed into law in May 2015, under the Obama administration, known as the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which established the Quality Payment Program (QPP). MACRA authorized and funded the SURS program, a program and practice-level technical assistance program for Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) eligible clinicians in practices of 15 or fewer providers, with priority given to practices in rural areas, areas with a health professional shortage, and medically underserved areas. Since 2017, the SURS program has provided direct support to an average 107,250 clinicians annually.

“We commend the introduction of the SURS Extension Act and encourage its swift passage. Physicians in rural parts of the state have and will continue to depend on this program to help them provide the quality, cost-effective care that Medicare patients need whether they’re from Colorado’s Eastern Plains or the Western Slope. The technical assistance provided by the program is incredibly valuable to ensure that small practices in rural and underserved areas have the support and tools necessary to succeed in the continuously changing MIPS program,” said Mark B. Johnson, M.D., MPH, President of the Colorado Medical Society.

Readers should know that the program is endorsed by: American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Home Care Medicine, American Association of Hip & Knee Surgeons, American College of Physicians, American Health Quality Association, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, Alliant Health Solutions, Altarum, Civitas Networks for Health, Colorado Medical Society, Comagine Health, Healthcentric Advisors, Medical Group Management Association, MetaStar, Inc., National Coalition on Health Care, National Partnership for Women & Families, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Qsource, Quality Insights, Primary Care Collaborative, Stratis Health, TMF Health Quality Institute, UK HealthCare, and Vermont Medical Society.

In a letter in support of the SURS Extension Act, the above group of organizations wrote:

“[Payment] reform programs are complex, and clinicians require supplemental resources and guidance to meet the substantial quality and cost containment aspirations of payment models…The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this issue by restricting the availability of these clinicians to understand updates and changes to payment reform programs. The SURS Extension Act extends the QPP-SURS program until 2027 and ensures that small practices in rural and underserved areas have the support and tools necessary to succeed in the MIPS program.”

You can access the original Ark Valley Voice article HERE.

The full bill text is available HERE.

As a subcontractor to Altarum Institute of Michigan, Kentucky Regional Extension Center exclusively serves and supports the eligible providers in Kentucky. However, after five years of support, the QPP SURS technical assistance grant will end on February 15, 2022. You can read our blog post about the end of the SURS technical assistance HERE.

Contact the expert advisors at Kentucky REC for all your QPP, MIPS, and APM questions. We’re here to help: 859-323-3090.