American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: August 12

Leverage ACS-Supported Advocacy Priorities in August

The congressional work period, or "August recess," is an excellent time for surgeons to leverage ACS-supported advocacy priorities via SurgeonsVoice.

SurgeonsVoice, a key online component of ACS advocacy efforts, empowers ACS members with the necessary tools and resources to become more effective surgeon advocates. Specifically, the SurgeonsVoice action center enables interested and engaged advocates to contact elected officials regarding important legislative priorities that require Congress' attention and action. Because SurgeonsVoice is consistently updated to reflect emergent congressional activity, the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy encourages surgeon advocates to regularly visit SurgeonsVoice to learn more and respond to current calls to action. Participation is critical to ensure that surgical health policy issues remain at the forefront of lawmakers' minds, particularly when Congress returns to Washington.

For questions, contact ahp@facs.org.  

CMS Releases 2020 MIPS Final Scores

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2020 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) final scores and performance feedback reports. In addition, CMS released the 2022 MIPS payment adjustments that physicians will receive based on their 2020 MIPS final score. We encourage you to review your final score, performance feedback, and associated payment adjustments. Additionally, if you believe an error has been made in the calculation of your MIPS payment adjustment factor(s), you can request a targeted review until October 1, 2021. Surgeons can access their final scores and payment adjustment and request a targeted review by logging into their account on the Quality Payment Program website.

Any additional questions about MIPS final scores, payment adjustments, or requesting a targeted review should be directed to QualityDC@facs.org.

CMS Releases FY 2022 IPPS Final Rule

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) August 3 released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) final rule. The final rule includes various updates to the Inpatient Hospital Quality Programs, which includes the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), Hospital Value-based Purchasing Program (HVBP), Hospital Acquired Condition Program (HAC), and Inpatient Quality Reporting Program (IQR). Most notably, CMS finalized policies to adjust and suppress various measures across these programs to account for the disruption in care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of note for facility-based clinicians who participate in MIPS, for FY 2022, CMS will suppress multiple measures required under the HVBP. Therefore, hospitals will not receive an HVBP Total Performance Score for the FY 2022 program year. In the past, under the facility-based scoring policy within MIPS, CMS allowed the HVBP Total Performance Score to be applied to the scores for the Quality and Cost performance categories for MIPS eligible clinicians that met the criteria of the facility-based designation. Because hospitals will not receive an HVBP total performance score for FY 2022, CMS will not be able to perform facility-based measurement under MIPS for the 2021 performance year. For those clinicians who rely on the facility-based scoring mechanism for 2021, CMS advises clinicians/groups to identify another reporting method or to submit a COVID-19 hardship application for the applicable categories.

CMS released a press release and fact sheet that summarizes other policies within the IPPS final rule. All additional questions can be directed to Regulatory@facs.org or QualityDC@facs.org.

ACS-Supported Legislation to Address Health Care Worker Mental Health and Burnout Passes in U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (H.R. 1667/S. 610) on August 5. The legislation, which was introduced by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN), would establish grants for training in evidence-informed strategies to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders; allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to identify and disseminate evidence-informed best practices for reducing and preventing suicide and burnout among health care professionals; establish a national evidence-based education and awareness campaign; establish grants for employee education, peer-support programming and mental and behavioral health treatment; and commission a federal study into health care professional mental health and burnout and barriers to seeking appropriate care, with special examination of COVID-19's impact. Before passage in the Senate, the legislation was amended to require a report to Congress on the extent to which existing Federal programs on substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health grants address SUD and mental health conditions amongst health professionals.

The ACS prioritized S. 610 as part of its advocacy efforts during the 2021 Leadership & Advocacy Summit and is hopeful that H.R. 1667 will be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.

For more information, contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org.