In comments submitted (PDF) on draft revisions to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "blueprint" that provides the foundation for its required educational content on opioid prescribing, the AMA cautioned that public policies to reduce the supply of prescription opioids can have unintended consequences and will not address the rising use of heroin and fentanyl. Instead, public health interventions and investments need to comprehensively support access to multimodal, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders as well as for pain. 

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The comments also reinforced the AMA's strong support for implementation of the National Pain Strategy, and encouraged the agency to support educational efforts that use data on variations in pain care and prescribing to develop physician-specific plans rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Find out more about AMA efforts to end the opioid epidemic.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published new technical guides that can help with Quality Payment Program (QPP) reporting. Updates to the Quality Reporting Document Architecture Category III (QRDA III) implementation guide will now allow electronic health record (EHR) vendors to better support physicians' QPP participation. Specifically, this holds when reporting performance in the Advancing Care Information (ACI) and Improvement Activities (IA) Categories, as well as the Quality Category when reporting through the EHR or registry. If supported by the EHR or registry vendor, using the new QRDA III format will allow CMS to provide immediate, clear and actionable feedback at the time of submission and better eliminate data-submission errors for more successful QPP reporting. If there is a problem with the submission, the vendor will be notified of the issue and be able to address it in near real-time.

The AMA has encouraged CMS to improve procedures for QPP reporting and decrease the time it takes for physicians to receive performance feedback. QRDA III submissions to CMS for the 2017 performance period will be submitted through the new QPP submissions application programing interface (API) or via file upload on the QPP website. To take advantage of these new features, reach out to your EHR vendor and request that they adopt the new updated guide (PDF). For more information on QPP reporting, visit CMS' website and the AMA's online resources.

Regardless of their size, specialty or level of preparedness, medical practices are concerned that the implementation of Medicare's QPP will be burdensome and time consuming, according to a new survey (PDF) conducted by the AMA and the KPMG consulting firm.

"It's a big challenge all the way across" practice types, said Carol Vargo, director of physician practice sustainability at the AMA, who said this finding was the survey's "big takeaway."

The AMA and KPMG surveyed 1,000 practicing U.S. physicians involved in their practice's decision making regarding the implementation of the QPP, whose two pathway options include the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or the adoption of an Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM). The survey was conducted between April 25 and May 1, prior to the recent release of proposed QPP updates to the program by CMS.

The survey is seen as a baseline to measure MACRA implementation progress and a tool to help guide education efforts and policy decisions. The AMA is working to provide a "glide path" for physicians to transition to value-based care, she said. This includes launching an educational campaign, "One patient, one measure, no penalty," which provides physicians with resources to guide physicians on meeting the minimum requirements for this year.

"Our resources include a step-by-step video on minimum reporting requirements to avoid a penalty in 2019 and a payment model evaluator that offers a brief assessment of where a practice stands," AMA President David O. Barbe, MD, said in a statement. "In just 10 steps, physicians can successfully meet the standard under MACRA."

To learn more about CMS' "pick your pace options," listen to this recent ReachMD interview with Kate Goodrich, MD, CMS' chief medical officer and director of its Center for Clinical Standards and Quality.

Read more at AMA Wire®.

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