CMS grants reporting exceptions for Medicare providers over coronavirus

CMS is providing exceptions from Medicare reporting requirements as well as extensions for clinicians and providers in Medicare quality reporting programs and data submission as the nation’s healthcare providers deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The exceptions should help providers free up time to ensure they can tackle the outbreak of the new coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19. CMS has already issued other guidance and flexibilities, such as asking providers to halt elective surgeries to prepare for an influx of patients affected by the virus and granting expansions for telehealth. The relief is likely good news for providers that will see unusual activity to treat patients with COVID-19. Overall, CMS stated no data from services provided Jan. 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 will be used in calculations for the Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs.

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

Namely, CMS is extending the deadline for data submission for the Quality Payment Program from March 31 to April 30, 2020. MIPS participants who have not submitted data by April 30 will qualify for the extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy with a neutral payment adjustment for 2021. The agency is evaluating if it will have to push back other deadlines for 2020 reporting.

Among hospital programs, CMS will not count data from Jan. 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 for performance or payment programs. In addition, data does not need to be submitted to CMS during this period. However, if data is submitted from Jan. 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 for the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program and the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program, it will be scored for the program.

CMS also stated data does not need to be submitted to the agency from Jan. 1 through June 30 for post-acute care program, as well as data for the Home Health and Hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Survey from Jan. 1 through September 30.

The actions to delay reporting requirements was applauded by the American Medical Association.

“Physicians on the front line of this pandemic are grateful that CMS has waived Medicare reporting requirements, allowing clinicians to focus on patients,” AMA President Patrice Harris, MD, MA, said in a statement. “In the best of times, physician practices struggle to meet all the bureaucratic demands in the Medicare program. These are not the best of times. CMS’ decision to offer relief from the reporting demands in the Quality Payment Program will be felt immediately. Doctors don’t have much time to breathe a sigh of relief, but if they did, they would take a moment to thank CMS for this wise decision."