Last month, the Nashville Medical Group Management Association met at their new location at West End United Methodist Church for an update from D.C. The lunch meeting, sponsored by Life Credit Union, featured Suzanne Falk, MPP, associate director of Government Affairs for MGMA, the local association's national organization.
Falk shared insights on trending topics ranging from QPP and MACRA to proposed 2018 regulations and ongoing health reform discussions impacting physician practices.
"For every three pages of law that comes out, there's about 300 pages of regulations," Falk said ruefully.
One new regulation practices need to address, she continued, is rooted in section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. She said nondiscrimination standards tied to language barriers call for providers to formalize and document a language access plan. The Office for Civil Rights under the Department of Health & Human Services has recently released more detailed information on the final rule on Section 1557. Go online to hhs.gov/civil-rights for details.
Another issue MGMA has identified is the cost of virtual credit and electronic funds transfer (EFT) fees. Falk said a survey released last month by MGMA found one in six practices faces EFT service fees, which can be as much as 5 percent.
"I don't have to tell you that can really quickly eat into your bottom line," Falk said. She added service providers are not required to tell practices about the fees. "Be vigilant and be your own advocate," she advised.
While there are a number of benefits from electronic transactions, MGMA and other provider organizations have advocated for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to release regulatory guidance on such transactions. The Workgroup for Electronic Data Exchange (WEDI) created a task group co-chaired by MGMA and Aetna to draft a set of consensus-based electronic payment principles calling for more transparency regarding fees.
With the move to MACRA, Falk cautioned practice administrators against ignoring Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) reports and Quality Resource Use Reports (QRURs). While it's tempting to push them aside since the programs have ended, Falk said, "I cannot stress enough how important it is to still check these reports. With that two-year lag between payment and performance, we're still feeling the pain of these programs."
She added practices have 60 days after a report is released to file a review request to address any discrepancies. Without such a request, Falk noted, the practice is out of luck even if a mistake was made.
Falk noted MIPS topped the list on the MGMA 2017 Regulatory Burden Survey. She offered her own set of MIPS survival tips when discussing the move to MACRA. Like other recent NMGMA speakers, she stressed, "Please protect yourself from a MIPS penalty. There is no reason anyone in this room should get a penalty."
She also added that MACRA rules continue to evolve and the end of the year would bring a new wave of decisions. "What's right for your practice and best now might not be tomorrow so stay engaged," she added.
For links to resources from MGMA and other agencies, go online to NashvilleMedicalNews.com. The next NMGMA meeting will be held on Oct. 17 at the new location at 2200 West End Ave.