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CMS proposes rule to increase price transparency, access to care, safety and health equity

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | July 20, 2021

Improving Patient Experience and Outcomes

The Radiation Oncology (RO) Model aims to improve the quality of care for cancer patients receiving radiotherapy and move toward a simplified and predictable payment system. The RO Model tests whether prospective, site neutral, modality agnostic, episode-based payments to physician group practices, hospital outpatient departments, and freestanding radiation therapy centers for radiotherapy episodes of care reduces Medicare expenditures while preserving or enhancing the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.

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CMS is proposing changes to the RO Model, which aim to improve the experience of patients receiving radiation treatment, while incorporating evidence-based best practices to help providers improve patient outcomes.

Patient Safety

CMS is increasing Medicare beneficiary safety by reversing changes made for 2021 regarding the care setting for which Medicare will pay for surgical procedures that may pose risk to patients.

Specifically, the agency is proposing to halt the phased elimination of the Inpatient-Only (IPO) list—procedures that Medicare will only make payment for when provided in the inpatient setting. There are some services designated as inpatient only that, given their clinical intensity, would not be expected to be performed in the outpatient setting. CMS adopted a policy for 2021 to eliminate this list over a phased period and removed musculoskeletal procedures from the list in 2021.

This change happened without individually evaluating whether the procedures met the long-standing criteria previously used to determine if a procedure could be safely removed. Some of the musculoskeletal services removed includes services like limb amputations and invasive spinal procedures.

CMS reviewed each procedure code of services that were removed and found none met criteria for removal, with insufficient supporting evidence that the service can be safely performed on the Medicare population in the outpatient setting.

CMS is proposing to add them back on to the list in 2022, and is seeking comment on whether to maintain the longer-term objective of eliminating the IPO list, maintaining the IPO list, or maintaining the list but continue to streamline the list of services. The latter would continue systematic scaling of the list back to ensure inpatient-only designations are consistent with current standards of practice.

CMS is also proposing to reinstate the patient safety criteria it uses to evaluate whether a procedure should be payable in the Ambulatory Surgery Center setting that were removed in 2021. CMS is proposing to adopt a nomination process whereby the publicly can formally nominate procedures it believes are safe to perform for the Medicare population in the ASC setting.

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