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  • 12/02/2021 5:41 PM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    MGMA to Congress: Prevent cuts to Medicare in CY 2022

    On Monday, MGMA and hundreds of other healthcare organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership urging them to address the cuts to Medicare reimbursement slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2022. More specifically, the groups asked Congress to extend the 3.75% payment adjustment through at least CY 2022. Last year, Congress appropriated funds to the Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) to mitigate cuts stemming from payment policy changes that went into effect in CY 2021. That 3.75% increase to the PFS expires at the end of this year. MGMA will soon share resources and grassroots letters addressing these impending cuts for members to engage in #MGMAAdvocacy! The letter may be viewed here.

    MGMA to Congress: Prevent cuts to labs in CY 2022

    This week, MGMA and two dozen other leading healthcare organizations wrote to Congress asking to extend the hold on laboratory payment cuts and the private payer data reporting period under the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) for a year. In 2014, Congress passed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) with the goal of giving Medicare beneficiaries access to critical health services, such as laboratory tests. The way that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented PAMA led to severe cuts to laboratories under Medicare. The CARES Act, passed in 2020, delayed the implementation of the CLFS cuts in 2021. Without congressional intervention, physician office laboratories could see cuts up to 15% for tests. The letter may be viewed here.

  • 11/11/2021 10:06 AM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    New MGMA vaccine mandate resource

    Last week, the Biden administration published new rules pertaining to COVID-19 vaccination and testing. To assist medical groups in navigating these complex mandates, MGMA Government Affairs created a new member-exclusive resource covering both mandates: (1) the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring employers with 100 or more employees to implement a COVID-19 vaccination and testing policy; and (2) the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) requiring healthcare workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated. Both mandates are slated to go into full effect on Jan. 4, 2022, although have already been challenged in court.

    Additional information:

    New MGMA surprise billing resource

    Several federal requirements related to surprise billing and related patient transparency requirements take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. To assist members in implementing these new requirements, MGMA Government Affairs created a member-exclusive resource outlining critical surprise billing policies impacting group practices.

    While the federal regulation of balance billing generally only applies to clinicians providing care at in-network facilities, other patient transparency requirements may impact clinicians providing care in group practice settings. MGMA will also be hosting a member-exclusive informational session and answering questions about the new surprise billing requirements later this month. More information will be posted in the member-exclusive Government Affairs Communities page in the coming weeks.

    Additional information:

  • 11/09/2021 4:11 PM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    CMS finalizes 2022 Physician Fee Schedule

    On Nov. 2, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule, finalizing changes to physician payment policies, including changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and alternative payment model participation options and requirements. Most of the final policies will take effect Jan. 1, 2022. MGMA submitted detailed comments in response to the proposed rule and thanks CMS for incorporating MGMA’s feedback into the final rule.

    CY 2022 CF:

    - Physician: $33.5983
    - Anesthesia: $20.9343

    Additional information:
    PFS fact sheet
    QPP fact sheet
    MGMA comments

    CMS finalizes 2022 outpatient facility and ambulatory surgical center rule

    On Nov. 2, CMS released the 2022 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System final rule. This rule finalizes CY 2022 OPPS and ASC payment rates and policies, including updates to improve transparency and quality reporting.

    Additionally, CMS is finalizing, as proposed, to use CY 2019 claims data for payment rate setting due to the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency.


    Additional information:
    OPPS/ASC fact sheet
    CMS press release



  • 10/28/2021 11:48 AM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    This week, the MGMA Government Affairs team released the 2021 Annual Regulatory Burden Report. This annual report captures the impact of federal regulations on medical group practices, and these data points and stories will help drive #MGMAAdvocacy.

    With responses from 420 medical group practices, the survey findings demonstrate the impact that increasing regulatory burden has on practices. An overwhelming majority (91%) of respondents reported that the overall regulatory burden on their medical practice has increased over the past 12 months. And an even greater number of respondents (95%) agreed a reduction in regulatory burden would allow their practice to reallocate resources toward patient care.

    Thank you to all of our members who participated in this survey! This is only one of many opportunities for members to partner with the Government Affairs team in #MGMAAdvocacy. For more information about how to engage in current advocacy efforts, please visit the
    MGMA Advocacy webpage.

  • 10/21/2021 11:35 AM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    Prior authorization reform bill introduced in the Senate

    Yesterday, the Senate introduced an MGMA-supported bill which would deliver much-needed reform to prior authorization under the Medicare Advantage program. The bipartisan Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2021 (S. 3018) is the companion bill to the House legislation introduced earlier this year.

    As prior authorization continues to rank as one of the most burdensome issues for medical groups year over year, MGMA is committed to working with lawmakers to expedite the passage of this critical legislation.

    MGMA engages in advocacy around electronic payments, value-based care, and vaccines

    As the voice of medical practices in Washington, D.C., MGMA actively engages with other leading health organizations and coalitions to promote our advocacy agenda. This past week, MGMA joined in advocacy around a variety of pertinent issues, including the electronic funds transfer (EFT) transaction standard, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), and COVID-19 vaccine access. Read more about these recent advocacy initiatives below:

    • MGMA urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to affirm providers’ right to receive EFT payments without being forced to pay percentage-based fees for additional services.

    • MGMA requested that CMS allow MSSP accountable care organizations to elect pre-pandemic years to set benchmarks for agreements beginning in performance year 2022.

    • MGMA encouraged the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator and U.S. Surgeon General to leverage office-based physicians, including primary care physicians and pediatricians, in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

    HHS extends COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra once again renewed the public health emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, effective Oct. 18, 2021. The extension will continue all telehealth waivers and other flexibilities pursuant to the PHE determination for another 90 days.

    Unless it is further extended, the current PHE determination will lapse on Jan. 16, 2022. As a reminder, the Biden administration has indicated that it intends to provide the healthcare community with 60 days' notice prior to allowing the PHE to lapse.

  • 10/14/2021 8:13 PM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    Help #MGMAAdvocacy prevent cuts to Medicare in 2022!

    MGMA has prepared a template letter for members to send to their congressional representatives urging them to prevent Medicare cuts slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. In July, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its proposed rule for the CY 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), which included a proposed conversion factor (CF) of 33.5848 (3.75% lower than the CY 2021 CF).

    This decrease is attributed to the expiration of a short-term legislative fix that Congress passed at the end of last year to prevent cuts stemming from PFS payment policy updates and corresponding budget neutrality requirements. To prevent cuts to Medicare reimbursement in CY 2022, Congress must act again. Send a letter to your congressional representatives urging them to maintain the 3.75% increase to the conversion factor through at least CYs 2022 and 2023!

    Deadline: Apply for Phase 4 Provider Relief funding by Oct. 26

    Applications for Phase 4 of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) General Distribution are due by Oct. 26. This new $17 billion round of funding will be similar to the previous round distributed in Phase 3, which covered up to 88% of reported losses and net changes in operating expenses from patient care from the first half of 2020. However, Phase 4 will focus on lost revenues and changes in operating expenses from July 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021.

    Phase 4 will also include new elements specifically focused on equity, including reimbursing smaller providers for their lost revenues and COVID-19 related expenses at a higher rate compared to larger providers and "bonus" payments based on the number of services furnished to patients in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). An additional $8.5 billion Rural Distribution, intended for providers who furnish services to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP patients in defined rural areas, is also available for consideration via the same application. For additional details on the PRF, you can reference MGMA's member resource.

  • 10/07/2021 3:37 PM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    Surprise billing rule establishes dispute resolution process for patients, providers, and plans

    The Office of Personnel Management and the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Treasury released the second interim final rule (IFR) implementing provisions of the No Surprises Act. This rule follows prior rulemaking outlining patient protections against surprise medical bills, establishing out-of-pocket limits, and notice and consent requirements.

    This rule implements independent dispute resolution (IDR) processes for providers, patients, and health plans and takes effect Jan. 1, 2022. The rule also outlines the process the agencies will use to evaluate and certify IDR entities for the arbitration process.

    More information is available on the associated Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) fact sheet and agency press release. As the agencies release additional information, it will be posted on the new CMS surprise billing landing page. Be on the lookout for MGMA’s analysis and comments in response to the second IFR.

    New guidance from HHS on HIPAA and COVID-19 vaccination status

    HHS, through its Office for Civil Rights, issued new guidance on the relationship between the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and COVID-19 vaccination status in the workplace. This practical guidance serves to help businesses and healthcare entities better understand when the HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to disclosures of vaccination status, particularly as it pertains to employees and patients.

    Notably, the guidance is an important reminder that the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply to employers because they are not included in the definition of a HIPAA covered entity or business associate.

    Members may also wish to consult the MGMA HIPAA landing page for additional resources. 

    MIPS virtual group election period for PY 2022 now open

    The virtual group election process for the 2022 performance year for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) is now open. CMS has published a 2022 Virtual Group Toolkit providing detailed information about the virtual group election and participation process. Virtual group elections must be submitted via email to CMS by Dec. 31, 2021, at 11:59 PM (ET).

    More information about MIPS participation options and the virtual group election process is available on the CMS Quality Payment Program website.
  • 09/23/2021 10:14 AM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    New Provider Relief funding available next week

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to open applications for a new round of Provider Relief Fund payments totaling $25.5 billion in distributions beginning Sept. 29, 2021. This new funding includes $8.5 billion for providers furnishing services to Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare patients in defined rural areas, and an additional $17 billion for a Phase 4 General Distribution for providers who can document lost revenue and changes in operating expenses between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Consideration for both distributions will be determined through a single application on the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) website, and HRSA will use Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare claims data in the calculation of payments.

    As a reminder, HHS is allowing a 60-day grace period following the upcoming Sept. 30 reporting deadline for providers that received greater than $10,000 in Provider Relief funds between April 10 and June 30, 2020. HHS indicated it will not initiate any recoupment or enforcement actions for 60 days following the deadline, allowing for a period of enforcement discretion from Oct. 1 – Nov. 30, 2021. For additional information on the Provider Relief Fund, reference MGMA’s recently updated resource detailing program updates, requirements, and deadlines.

    MIPS automatic neutral payment adjustment applies to clinicians impacted by Hurricane Ida

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that certain clinicians participating in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) will automatically receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 performance year/2023 payment year due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. Clinicians located in declared disaster areas, including Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, and Missouri, will automatically have their performance scores across all four MIPS categories reweighted to 0% and receive a neutral payment adjustment in 2023.

    However, impacted clinicians can still choose to submit MIPS performance data. If data is submitted for at least two performance categories, the clinician will be scored and have payment adjustments applied in 2023. While the automatic reweighting policy does not apply to groups or virtual groups, these MIPS participants can apply for reweighting of one or more MIPS performance categories.

  • 09/09/2021 9:21 AM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    MGMA urges HHS to delay enforcement of surprise billing requirements

    MGMA wrote to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the agency to delay the implementation and enforcement of the surprise medical billing requirements. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, certain providers will be prohibited from balance billing for services provided to out-of-network patients, while other clinician types will be required to provide strict notice and consent documentation before services are rendered in order to seek payment from out-of-network patients. In the letter, MGMA expressed serious concerns regarding the arbitrary and overburdensome requirements for the notice and consent process and fears that it could disrupt clinical care and practice operations. HHS will be releasing additional regulations in the coming months further implementing the ban on surprise billing.

    MGMA to Congress: Support the physician workforce

    MGMA and other leading healthcare organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership asking to include policies in the budget reconciliation legislation that would increase Medicare support for graduate medical education (GME). These additional positions would alleviate the physician shortage by gradually providing new Medicare-supported GME positions. MGMA members can participate in #MGMAAdvocacy by sending a template letter to their congressional representatives.

    Tax credits for paid leave set to expire at end of month

    Eligible medical groups have until the end of September to take advantage of the tax credits available to employers to help fund paid FMLA and sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided funds in the form of refundable tax credits to businesses with fewer than 500 employees who offer employees paid FMLA and sick leave under the Act. Although the requirement to offer paid leave under the FFCRA is no longer mandatory, the refundable tax credits are only available to businesses that offer the paid leave. To learn more about the requirements to report qualified sick and family wages, see the updated guidance from the Internal Revenue Services issued this week.

  • 08/26/2021 3:50 PM | Rebekah Francis (Administrator)

    MIPS Value Pathways demystified in member exclusive resource

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services introduced seven new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Value Pathways (MVPs) for optional reporting beginning in the 2023 performance year. Check out this MGMA member exclusive resource that details the key MVP policy proposals and the proposed reporting pathways included in the CY 2022 Physician Fee Schedule. The goal of this new MIPS alternative is to provide clinicians with more meaningful reporting options through cohesive MVPs specific to physician specialties, patient populations, or clinical conditions. MIPS has caused many administrative challenges for MGMA members and has provided limited financial reward for high performance in the quality reporting program. MGMA will submit comments responding to these proposals and will provide an updated analysis highlighting key policies after the final rule is released in November.

    MGMA to HHS: Extend Provider Relief Fund reporting deadline

    In a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, MGMA urged HHS to extend the upcoming Sept. 30 reporting deadline for the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). Per current HHS guidance, recipients of more than $10,000 in the aggregate in PRF payments received between April 10 and June 30, 2020, are required to report their use of funds through the PRF Reporting Portal by Sept. 30, 2021. However, due to the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases across the country coupled with the complex and arduous reporting requirements of the program, MGMA has heard concerns from many practices struggling to complete reporting by the deadline. In addition to requesting an extension of the reporting deadline through 2023, MGMA urged HHS to clarify its existing reporting guidance to address outstanding confusion around acceptable uses of funds and to allow PRF recipients to use payments through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

    MGMA to OSHA: Exempt medical groups from new COVID-19 requirements

    MGMA submitted written comments in response to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS). The ETS places requirements, which are already in effect, on medical groups that are unable or choose not to avail themselves to relevant exemptions. In its comments, MGMA expressed concerns regarding the burdens associated with compliance and recommended that OSHA not make the ETS permanent. As MGMA continues to advocate on this issue, please send any examples of how compliance would be burdensome and/or difficult to MGMA Government Affairs.

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