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CMS Postpones 2019 MIPS Reporting Deadline to April 30

By Joey Berlin

Originally published on the Texas Medical Association website.

With a key deadline for clinicians in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) approaching fast amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is giving those clinicians a month of extra time to submit their data.

CMS announced Sunday it is moving the deadline for MIPS-eligible clinicians to submit their 2019 MIPS data to April 30, instead of March 31.

Even if that’s not enough time, not submitting your data by then won’t hurt your bottom line. CMS also announced that MIPS-eligible clinicians who haven’t submitted their 2019 data by the April 30 date would simply receive a “neutral payment adjustment” – that is, no payment bonus and no 7% penalty – in calendar year 2021. (MIPS bonuses or penalties for a given performance year are assessed two years later.)

MIPS is a key piece of the agency’s Quality Payment Program, which requires eligible clinicians to participate in the program either through MIPS or alternative payment models.

CMS announced the MIPS extension among a host of new measures under its “extreme and uncontrollable circumstances” policy in order to ease the burden on clinicians participating in a number of federal quality reporting programs.

“In granting these exceptions and extensions, CMS is supporting clinicians fighting coronavirus on the front lines,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a release. “The Trump administration is cutting bureaucratic red tape so the health care delivery system can direct its time and resources toward caring for patients.”

Any clinicians who have already submitted their 2019 MIPS data, or submit their data by the April 30 deadline, will be scored and receive a payment adjustment under the normal method, CMS said. April 30 is also the new deadline for clinicians to revise their submitted data, if needed, by logging in to the QPP portal. For guidance on submitting your data, download this CMS guide (PDF).

CMS also reports it is evaluating options for providing additional relief for the 2020 QPP performance year (which would affect 2022 payments). Texas Medicine Today will update physicians when CMS releases more information.

The list of new exceptions and extensions for the QPP and other federal quality reporting programs is available here.

For questions, contact the QPP Service Center at (866) 288-8292 or by email.

Remember, you can find the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.

COVID-19 Activity in Tarrant County – 3/23/20

Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Monday, March 23, 2020 at 11:15 a.m. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

Case Status by City

CITYCASESACTIVEDEATHSRECOVERED
Arlington131210
Benbrook1001
Colleyville3300
Euless2200
Fort Worth181800
Grand Prairie1100
Grapevine1100
Haltom City2200
Keller2200
Lakeside2200
Mansfield4400
N Richland Hills2200
Southlake4400
Watauga1100
White Settlement1001
TOTALS575412

Transmission Type by City

CITYTravelKnownSourceUnknownSourcePending
Arlington5242
Benbrook1000
Colleyville1002
Euless0020
Fort Worth11241
Grand Prairie0010
Grapevine1000
Haltom City2000
Keller1001
Lakeside2000
Mansfield2020
N Richland Hills1010
Southlake3001
Watauga1000
White Settlement1000
TOTALS324147

Printable COVID-19 Materials to Use in Your Medical Practice

Physicians, below are a number of printable COVID-19 materials TMA has compiled so they are easily accessible for your practice throughout the pandemic.

Customizable Signs to Hang on Your Practice Door – In Color and Black and White

Customizable Permission Letter for School or Work

Coronavirus Alert for Health Care Settings – EnglishChineseKoreanSpanishVietnamese

Symptoms of Coronavirus – EnglishSpanish

Stop the Spread of Germs – EnglishChineseSpanish

CMS Announces Relief for Clinicians, Providers, Hospitals and Facilities Participating in Quality Reporting Programs in Response to COVID-19

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced unprecedented relief for the clinicians, providers, and facilities participating in Medicare quality reporting programs including the 1.2 million clinicians in the Quality Payment Program and on the front lines of America’s fight against the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Specifically, CMS announced it is granting exceptions from reporting requirements and extensions for clinicians and providers participating in Medicare quality reporting programs with respect to upcoming measure reporting and data submission for those programs.  The action comes as part of the Trump Administration’s response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“In granting these exceptions and extensions, CMS is supporting clinicians fighting Coronavirus on the front lines,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “The Trump Administration is cutting bureaucratic red tape so the healthcare delivery system can direct its time and resources toward caring for patients.”

Specifically, CMS is implementing additional extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy exceptions and extensions for upcoming measure reporting and data submission deadlines for the following CMS programs:

Provider Programs2019 Data Submission2020 Data Submission
·      Quality Payment Program – Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)  Deadline extended from March 31, 2020 to April 30, 2020.   MIPS eligible clinicians who have not submitted any MIPS data by April 30, 2020 will qualify for the automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy and will receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year.CMS is evaluating options for providing relief around participation and data submission for 2020.
  ·      Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)
Hospital Programs2019 Data Submission2020 Data Submission
·      Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting ProgramDeadlines for October 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019 (Q4) data submission optional.   If Q4 is submitted, it will be used to calculate the 2019 performance and payment (where appropriate). If data for Q4 is unable to be submitted, the 2019 performance will be calculated based on data from January 1, 2019 – September 30, 2019 (Q1-Q3) and available data.    CMS will not count data from January 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 (Q1-Q2) for performance or payment programs. Data does not need to be submitted to CMS for this time period.   * For the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program and the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program, if data from January 1, 2020 – March 31, 2020 (Q1) is submitted, it will be used for scoring in the program (where appropriate).
·      CrownWeb National ESRD Patient Registry and Quality Measure Reporting System
·       End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Quality Incentive Program
·       Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program
·       Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program
·       Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting Program
·       Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program
·       Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program
·       Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting Program
·       PPS-Exempt Cancer Hospital Quality Reporting Program
·       Promoting Interoperability Program for Eligible Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals
Post-Acute Care (PAC) Programs2019 Data Submission2020 Data Submission
  ·       Home Health Quality Reporting Program  Deadlines for October 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019 (Q4) data submission optional.   If Q4 is submitted, it will be used to calculate the 2019 performance and payment (where appropriate).    Data from January 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 (Q1-Q2) does not need to be submitted to CMS for purposes of complying with quality reporting program requirements.   * Home Health and Hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey data from January 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020 (Q1-Q3) does not need to be submitted to CMS.   * For the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Value-Based Purchasing Program, qualifying claims will be excluded from the claims-based SNF 30-Day All-Cause Readmission Measure (SNFRM; NQF #2510) calculation for Q1-Q2.  
  ·       Hospice Quality Reporting Program
  ·       Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Quality Reporting Program
  ·       Long Term Care Hospital Quality Reporting Program
  ·       Skilled Nursing Facility Quality Reporting Program
  ·       Skilled Nursing Facility Value-Based Purchasing Program

For those programs with data submission deadlines in April and May 2020, submission of those data will be optional, based on the facility’s choice to report.  In addition, no data reflecting services provided January 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 will be used in CMS’s calculations for the Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs. This is being done to reduce the data collection and reporting burden on providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CMS recognizes that quality measure data collection and reporting for services furnished during this time period may not be reflective of their true level of performance on measures such as cost, readmissions and patient experience during this time of emergency and seeks to hold organizations harmless for not submitting data during this period. 

CMS will continue monitoring the developing COVID-19 situation and assess options to bring additional relief to clinicians, facilities, and their staff so they can focus on caring for patients.  This action, and earlier CMS actions in response to COVID-19, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19, please visit www.coronavirus.gov. For a complete and updated list of CMS actions, and other information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website

COVID-19 Activity in Tarrant County – 3/22/20

Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 11:15 a.m. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

Case Status by City

CITYCASESACTIVEDEATHSRECOVERED
Arlington121110
Benbrook1001
Colleyville2200
Euless2200
Fort Worth141400
Grand Prairie1100
Grapevine1100
Keller1100
Lakeside2200
Mansfield4400
N Richland Hills2200
Southlake3300
Watauga1100
White Settlement1001
TOTALS474412

Transmission Type by City

CITYTravelKnownSourceUnknownSourcePending
Arlington3243
Benbrook1000
Colleyville0002
Euless0020
Fort Worth5126
Grand Prairie0010
Grapevine1000
Keller0001
Lakeside2000
Mansfield0022
N Richland Hills1010
Southlake2001
Watauga1000
White Settlement1000
TOTALS1731215

TARRANT COUNTY JUDGE TIGHTENS RESTRICTIONS TO CURB SPREAD OF COVID-19

By Tarrant County Public Health

To mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley today signed a second amended disaster declaration due to a local health emergency. Go to the Tarrant County website for the complete order which includes a more comprehensive list.

The new restrictions, which go into effect today at 6 p.m., will close in-person worship services but will allow worship support staff to facilitate online services.

Click here to read the Second Amended Declaration of Disaster. 

The new rules will also close malls and other non-essential retail establishments, such as barber shops, hair salons, nail salons as well spas and massage parlors.

Essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and other establishments that sell household goods will remain open.

In-house dining at restaurants remains closed but drive-in, drive-through, takeout and delivery are still permitted.

There should be no gatherings of more than 10 people regardless of the situation. There is no distinction between the types of gatherings in the amended declaration.

“We cannot stress enough that Tarrant County residents practice social distancing where you stay at least 6 feet away from other individuals,” Whitley said. “You need to have sufficient space to have people be at least 6 feet apart. To whatever degree possible, we would encourage you to have sign-in logs to keep track of everyone you have come in contact with.”

COVID-19 causes respiratory illness with cough, fever, and shortness of breath, and may lead to bronchitis and severe pneumonia.

Tarrant County Public Health encourages everyone to continue to follow basic preventive measures to protect from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, including:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a supplement.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick. If you have trouble breathing, or a persistent fever, call your primary care provider.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve.

• Frequently clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.

Fort Worth Amends Disaster Declaration for COVID-19

Mayor Betsy Price signed an amended order to the emergency declaration in place within the City of Fort Worth due to a local public health emergency and in a continued effort to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The following went into effect today, Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 6:00 pm:

  • All in-person worship services are no longer permitted, with the exception of worship support staff to facilitate online services.
  • All malls and non-essential retail establishments including barber shops, hair salons, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, estheticians and related personal care businesses are closed and no occupancy is permitted.
  • Also closed: bars, lounges, taverns, commercial amusement and entertainment establishments, bingo halls, theaters, gyms, fitness classes, yoga and personal training facilities, similar facilities and classes, private clubs, tattoo and piercing parlors and tanning salons, residential meeting spaces, event centers, hotel meeting spaces and ballrooms, outdoor plazas and markets Essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and other establishments that sell household goods will remain open but must enforce social separation. This includes:
  • Convenience and package stores, pharmacies and drug stores, day care facilities, medical facilities, veterinary facilities, non-profit service providers of essential services, homeless and emergency shelters, office buildings, jails, essential government buildings, airports and transit facilities, transportation systems, residential buildings and hotels, manufacturing and distribution facilities. In-house dining at restaurants remains closed, but drive-in, drive-through, takeout and delivery are still permitted. There is no distinction between the types of gatherings in the amended declaration. There should be no gatherings of more than 10 people.

Additionally, temperature screenings at public-facing city facilities began Wednesday, March 18. Those entering city facilities during normal business hours will have their temperature checked using a forehead thermometer, and people with a temperature of 100 degrees or more will be asked to leave, and to contact their healthcare provider. This includes city employees.

AMA’s ROLE IN COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The following is a message from American Medical Association EVP/CEO James L. Madara, MD. 

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an enormous threat to public health and an extreme challenge to physicians. Now, more than ever, physicians need a powerful ally in patient care. The AMA’s COVID-19 response strategy, attached, provides a road map for our initiatives in an unprecedented pandemic scenario. The strategy frames the AMA’s response in three key areas:

  • Providing clear, evidence-based guidance from trusted resources, including JAMA Network, the CDC, WHO, state and local agencies and AMA subject matter experts.
  • Building an interface with physicians on the front line, allowing them to share their experience with other physicians, the government and key health agencies.
  • Removing obstacles to diagnosis and treatment through our Advocacy, CPT, PS2 and other initiatives.

We are acquiring many ideas and we filter them through the above three strategic channels (keeping in mind the overarching view of what it is the AMA does well). Since early January, we have closely monitored the global outbreak of COVID-19 and compiled up-to-the-moment information for physicians. Here are some examples of what we’ve done recently viewed through the lens of our COVID-19 response strategy:

  • Building an interface with physicians on the front lines
    • Speaking directly to power on behalf of physicians
    • Conversations and updates with our Federation partners and AMA Ambassadors
    • Learning from and sharing first-hand accounts of physicians on the front lines. Listen to JAMA Editor Howard Bauchner, MD interview Maurizio Cecconi, MD in Italy and NIAID’s Anthony Fauci, MD;  read how the Permanente Medical Group developed new approaches to preserve PPE. 
    • Listening to and answering questions from physicians on twitter, leveraging ambassadors to engage and spread the word, and will be conducting Twitter chats to answer physician questions and share experiences. 
    • Called on the Administration for $100 billion dollars to support front line health care personnel and providers.
  • Removing obstacles to diagnosis and treatment
  • AMA Head: Lack of protective gear for health care workers is ‘unacceptable’
  • AMA Calls on Administration to Use Every Lever to Address Protective Equipment Needs, Lack of Tests in COVID-19 Fight
  • Mobilizing a dramatic increase in the nation’s telemedicine capacity through its advocacy and publication of the Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice, a new resource to help physicians implement remote care.
  • Developed new CPT code for coronavirus.
  • Eased restrictions on the use of laboratory developed tests for COVID-19 testing to expand local access. 
  • Administration exercising flexibility in reducing regulatory burdens by allowing physicians to care for Medicare beneficiaries in States other than where they are licensed, waiving enrollment requirements and expediting enrollment, and waiving the requirement for Medicare patients for a 3-day hospitalization prior to covering skilled nursing facility care.  
  • Worked with HHS on the development of new recommendations for deferring non-urgent elective procedures that are consistent with recommendations of the American College of Surgeons. 

The AMA’s COVID-19 news and video coverage is promoted across the AMA website, email, Morning Rounds, all social platforms and Apple News. Since COVID-19 coverage began through March 18, nearly 390,000 users have consumed COVID-19 content from the AMA website, including nearly 17,000 clicks/referrals to JAMA and EdHub resources.

Resources

AMA Letters:

  • March 19  Letter to Congressional Leaders re: urgent steps to help preserve viability of physician practices due to the demands of COVID-19.
  • March 18  Letter to Seema Verma re: CPT code clarification in light of COVID-19 with remote physiologic monitoring and telephone evaluation and management.
  • March 16  Letter to Michael Pence re: Request for assistance with shortage of personal protective equipment for health care professionals.
  • March 13  Letter to Alex Azar re: Medicare assistance for solutions facing the nation with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sign-On Letters:

Press releases to date:

March 20:

March 19:

March 18:

March 17:

March 13:

March 10:

March 5:AMA statement on Congress passing supplemental COVID-19 appropriations

COVID-19 Activity in Tarrant County – 3/21/20

Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

CITYCASESACTIVEDEATHSRECOVERED
TOTALS423912
Arlington11 1 
Benbrook1   
Colleyville2   
Euless2   
Forest Hill1   
Fort Worth11   
Grapevine1   
Lakeside2   
Keller1   
Mansfield3   
N Richland Hills2   
Southlake3   
Watauga1   
White Settlement1   

Practical Answers to COVID-19 Questions for Your Practice – Updated

By David Doolittle

Originally published on the Texas Medical Association website.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Texas and around the country grows, what steps should your clinic take to ensure the safety of your staff and patients? 

The Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force has updated its “Frequently Asked Questions” that answer many of the questions you might have about caring for people who have been exposed to the virus.

Among the questions answered:

  • How to minimize exposure to COVID-19 in your clinic; 
  • Types of infection prevention control measures to implement in your clinic;
  • How to best prepare staff;
  • Infection prevention and control precautions to take if a patient with possible COVID-19 requires evaluation at an emergency department (ED); and
  • Infection prevention and control recommendations to give to patients with suspected COVID-19 who are well enough to go home.

The FAQ is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and other health organizations.

You can find the latest news, resources, and government guidance on the coronavirus outbreak by visiting TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center regularly.