Legislative Activity

SGR Policy Framework Deal

Last week, the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the three committees of jurisdiction over Medicare (Senate Finance Committee, House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees) announced they were filing legislation to repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula (H.R. 4015). The agreement would give physicians in Medicare a 0.5 percent payment update for five years, while implementing a new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System that would begin in 2018. While extenders and offsets are not yet settled, the deal represents a significant step forward on a policy agreement.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Monday, February 10: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Examining Drug Shortages and Recent Efforts to Address Them.”
  • Tuesday, February 11: The House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications will hold a hearing titled “Bioterrorism: Assessing the Threat.”

Regulatory Activity

Sunshine Act Implementation Update

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that on February 18, Open Payments registration and data submission for manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) will open with a two-phased approach for this first reporting year of the program. Phase 1 (February 18-March 31) will require user registration and submission of corporate profile information and aggregate 2013 payment data.  Phase 2 (beginning in May to last at least 30 days) requires industry registration in the Open Payments system, submission of detailed 2013 payment data, and legal attestation to the accuracy of the data. When the phases are complete (by August 1, 2014), health care providers and manufacturers will have an opportunity to review the data and correct any inaccuracies. CMS is expected to host a webinar for manufacturers and GPOs regarding the registration and data submission processes in the coming weeks.

Meaningful Use Attestation Extension

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is extending the deadline for physicians and other eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. Physicians now have until March 31 to submit meaningful use data meeting the criteria for the 2013reporting year. CMS is also giving hospitals a “one-time opportunity” to submit data retroactively for the reporting period ending September 30, 2013, which offers a potential pass from the program’s 2015 penalties for failing to comply in 2013.