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Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013

Practice News

Group practices: Last chance to avoid Medicare pay cut

Large group practices now have until Oct. 18 to register for group participation in Medicare's quality reporting program, a requirement to avoid a 1 percent pay cut in 2015.

The penalty, which is associated with the Medicare value-based modifier (VBM), will be applied to physicians in any medical practice of 100 or more physicians and other practitioners that is not registered for one of the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) group participation options.

In addition to the 1 percent VBM penalty, a 1.5 percent penalty also will apply to physicians who did not participate in PQRS as either an individual or part of a group.

If your practice is one of the several hundred that have not yet registered, sign up today for the 2013 administrative claims reporting mechanism calculated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). You can register via the CMS online portal.

Registration requires an Individuals Authorized Access to the CMS Computer Services (IACS) account, which you can acquire on the CMS website. Additional information about registration and obtaining or modifying an IACS account is available on CMS's self-nomination/registration Web page.

Friday's deadline, a three-day extension from the original deadline, was secured by the AMA. While the AMA will continue to press for a longer extension, the government shutdown will make that very difficult. Also as a result of the government shutdown, CMS is unable to update its website to indicate that the Oct. 15 date has been changed to Oct. 18.

In addition, the phone number listed on error messages in the PQRS registration portal is incorrect. Users should call the PV-PQRS Help Desk at (888) 734-6433, option 3 for questions about registration. CMS's QualityNet help desk can be reached at (866) 288-8912.

Initiative promotes safe disposal of unused meds

Physicians can help prevent prescription drug abuse by encouraging their patients to appropriately dispose of expired or unwanted medications Oct. 26, the next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Visit the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website to learn more about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The site features a search function to help locate collection sites and drug disposal information for patients. The event lasts from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time.

Prescription medications are the most commonly abused drugs next to marijuana, according to the DEA, and safely disposing of unused medications can help counter this trend. Authorities collected more than 371 tons of unwanted or expired medications during the last National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in April, bringing the total collected by these events over the last two years to 2.8 million pounds.

The AMA's comprehensive strategy (AMA login required) for combating prescription drug diversion, overdose and death includes a recommendation to establish local take-back locations to remove unused and unwanted drugs from the public.

Physicians also can use the AMA's medication disposal guide to remind patients to dispose of expired, unwanted and unused medicines properly.