The power of policy at HM19

Mini-track features CMS insights


Due to the steadily growing interest of SHM members in health care policy and advocacy issues, the 2019 Annual Conference will include a mini-track dedicated to policy issues.

Josh Boswell, director of government relations at SHM

Josh Boswell

To be held on Monday, March 25th at HM19 in Orlando, the health care policy mini-track will update conference attendees on some of the Washington developments that affect hospitalists, said Josh Boswell, director of government relations at SHM.

“Many of the policy developments in D.C. are directly impacting our members’ practices,” he said. “A couple of years ago, it was decided to add a specific track at the annual conference to cover some of these policy issues, and we’ve generally had positive feedback on the sessions.”

This year, the mini-track will consist of two separate sessions, held back to back. “Both sessions are designed to give attendees an entrée into health policy and explain developments that are happening right now in Washington that impact their practice,” said Joshua Lapps, government relations manager at SHM.

The first session – “CMS Policy Update: An Overview of Meaningful Measures and the Quality Payment Program” – will take place from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., and will feature Reena Duseja, MD, MS, the acting director for Quality Measurement and Value-Based Incentives Group in the Centers for Clinical Standards and Quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Dr. Duseja oversees the development of measures and analyses for a variety of CMS quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs. She is also an emergency medicine physician and was an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, in the department of emergency medicine, where she led quality improvement activities.

Joshua Lapps government relations manager at SHM

Joshua Lapps

“The session with Dr. Duseja will be an inside look into the approach that CMS is taking for quality measurement and pay-for-performance programs, specifically looking at the quality payment program which came out of the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act,” Mr. Lapps said. “It will be a high-level discussion about how the programs affect hospitalists, and how hospitalists participate in the programs. It’s also a chance for attendees to hear some of the thinking inside CMS.”

Dr. Duseja is also hoping to get feedback from HM19 attendees. “She wants the session to be educational for our members, as well as an opportunity for her to learn from hospitalists,” Mr. Lapps said.

According to Dr. Duseja, her presentation will provide attendees with an overview of the Quality Payment Program under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), specifically highlighting policy changes from 2018 to 2019 to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Meaningful Measures Initiative. Attendees will learn more about CMS’s approach to quality and quality measurement, as well as the future of quality reporting programs.

Following Dr. Duseja’s presentation, the second mini-track session will take place from 3:40 to 4:25 p.m. It will focus more intently on the processes around health care policy making.

“We heard from our members who attended this mini-track at the past two annual conferences that they would like us to explain how policy making works: the play-by-play in D.C. on how we get to where we are,” Mr. Boswell said.

The second session will feature a presentation by Jennifer Bell, founding partner at Chamber Hill Strategies, who represents SHM in Washington. “Jennifer will be discussing how Washington works, the policy process and the pressure points at which SHM and its members can exert influence,” Mr. Lapps said.

Attendees can expect to learn a lot from either session, Mr. Lapps said. “Attendees will learn about the basic contours of the Quality Payment Program that Medicare oversees, and some of the specific new elements of that program this year that were designed with hospitalists in mind. For example, Dr. Duseja will be talking about a facility-based reporting option under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System. I think our members should gain a concrete understanding of some of the new directions that CMS is heading this year. Overall, they’ll have a better sense of the vision behind quality measures and quality measurement. This is a really exciting opportunity to hear from someone who is both a clinician and works on policy at CMS.”

The policy mini-track offers hospitalists a chance to get a look “behind the curtain” at policy making from someone who is helping to write the rules.

“Attendees will gain insight on where they fit in these programs – and also have the opportunity to tell Dr. Duseja if they don’t feel these programs are a good fit for them,” Mr. Boswell said. “Oftentimes these programs are not structured ideally for hospitalists. So, hearing directly from hospitalists who are experiencing problems would be extraordinarily helpful to a CMS official. I think attendees should view the policy track not only as an opportunity to learn from CMS, but as an opportunity to educate CMS about our issues.”

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