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Goodbye, Meaningful Use. CMS renames program "Promoting Interoperability"

26 April 2018

Previous iterations of the IPPS and LTCH PPS programs have asked hospitals to either make their patient healthcare costs publicly available or to create systems by which patients could request price transparency.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services late Tuesday announced substantive changes to the meaningful use program and while hospitals appreciate one of them, two others are drawing less enthusiasm.

Hospitals were already required to make their list of standard charges public, but the new guidelines specify they make the prices readily available to any consumer surfing the web.

The proposal also asks hospitals to provide electronic health records in a form that patients can take to their doctors or another health care facility.

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The 2015 edition could help patients collect their health data from multiple providers using application programming interfaces (APIs), perhaps bringing all their health data together into a single digital place, the agency said.

"We seek to ensure the healthcare system puts patients first", CMS administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.

In fiscal year 2017, CMS estimated that federal spending on the program would total more than $709 billion, with 58 million individuals receiving insurance. CMS is proposing this new flexibility so that hospitals can spend more time providing care to their patients thereby improving the quality of care their patients receive.

Indeed, it starts with a new moniker: meaningful use is being renamed "Promoting Interoperability".

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"We are removing a total of 19 measures and are de-duplicating another 21 measures while keeping the focus where it should be-on reducing harm and creating better health outcomes for patients", said Verma.

The almost 1,900-page proposed rule calls on hospitals to publish their standard charges online in a machine-readable form that will help insurers and other organizations analyze them. "Secretary Azar has made such a value-based transformation in our healthcare system a top priority for HHS, and CMS is taking important, concrete steps toward achieving it". As part of that effort, the agency said it meant to prioritize the use of quality measures and improvement activities in value-based care and quality programs that lead to interoperability.

The comments from the Indianapolis-based health giant follow concerns from the industry that the transition to value hasn't been fast enough, and more incentives are needed to make providers take on risk and reduce costs. The proposed rule issued today proposes updates to Medicare payment policies and rates under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS).

It would also "eliminate a significant number of measures acute care hospitals are now required to report and remove duplicate measures across the 5 hospital quality and value-based purchasing programs", according to the press release.

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The comment period for stakeholders to submit feedback about the proposed rule closes on June 25, 2018.

Goodbye, Meaningful Use. CMS renames program