The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a proposed rule that would update Medicare payment and policies for doctors and other clinicians who treat Medicare patients in the calendar year 2018. The proposed rule is one of several Medicare payment rules for CY 2018 that reflect a broader strategy to relieve regulatory burdens for providers; support the patient-doctor relationship in health care; and promote transparency, flexibility, and innovation in the delivery of care.
The Physician Fee Schedule is updated annually to include changes to payment policies, payment rates, and quality provisions for services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries. In addition to physicians, a variety of medical professionals, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physical therapists, as well as radiation therapy centers and independent diagnostic testing facilities, are paid under the Physician Fee Schedule.
This proposed rule would provide greater potential for payment system modernization and seeks public comment on reducing administrative burdens for providing patient care, including visits, care management, and telehealth services. The rule takes steps to better align incentives and provide clinicians with a smoother transition to the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System under the Quality Payment Program (QPP). The rule encourages fairer competition between hospitals and physician practices by promoting greater payment alignment, and it would improve the payment for office-based behavioral health services that are often the therapy and counseling services used to treat opioid addiction and other substance use disorders. In addition, the proposed rule makes additional proposals to implement the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program expanded model starting in 2018.
These updates would help reduce regulatory burdens and allow practitioners to improve outcomes based on the unique needs of their patients. In addition to the proposed rule, CMS is releasing a Request for Information to welcome continued feedback on the Medicare program. CMS is committed to maintaining flexibility and efficiency throughout Medicare. Through transparency, flexibility, program simplification, and innovation, CMS aims to transform the Medicare program and promote the availability of high-value and efficiently-provided care for its beneficiaries. This will inform the discussion on future regulatory action related to the Physician Fee Schedule.