CMS GRANTS EXTENSIONS AND EXCEPTIONS FOR PROVIDERS PARTICIPATING IN MEDICARE QUALITY PROGRAMS

On March 22, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it was extending the deadlines for reporting 2019 quality data and was granting exceptions from reporting requirements for providers participating in Medicare quality reporting programs. In making the announcement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated: “In granting these exceptions and extensions, CMS is supporting clinicians fighting Coronavirus on the front lines.”

Specifically, CMS announced that it was extending the deadline for submitting 2019 quality data for providers participating in the Quality Payment Program Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and in the Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) from March 31, 2020 until April 30, 2020. In addition, CMS announced that MIPS eligible clinicians who do not submit any MIPS data by April 30, 2020 will qualify for the automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy and will receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year. CMS also announced that it was still evaluating options for providing relief regarding participation and data submissions for 2020.

With respect to several hospital programs, including the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program, the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting Program and the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, CMS announced that it was making the fourth quarter 2019 data submissions optional. If fourth quarter data is submitted, it will be used to calculate 2019 performance and payment (where appropriate). If fourth quarter data is not submitted, 2019 performance will be calculated based on data from the first three quarters of 2019.

In addition, CMS stated that it would not use data reflecting services provided from January 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 in its calculations for the Medicare quality reporting and value-based programs. It stated that this was “being done to reduce the data collection and reporting burden on providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”