CMS offers financial incentives for quality program

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is trying a new way to recruit physicians to participate in a voluntary quality reporting program: a bonus payment of 1.5% of the total allowed charges for covered Medicare physician fee-scheduled services.

Physicians eligible to participate in the 2007 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative will choose from 74 specifications applicable to their practices to voluntarily report between July 1 and Dec. 31. To get the bonus (which is subject to a cap), physicians must report on three measures for 80% of the patients to whom these measures apply. So for instance, if a doctor reports on three of the diabetes measures-blood pres-sure, hemoglobin A1c, and low-density lipoprotein controls-for 80% of his diabetic patients during the 6-month period, he or she will receive the bonus for all of the patients treated, regardless of whether they are diabetic or not.

Time will tell if the financial incentive tempts doctors into participating, or if it could even lead to a more comprehensive reporting initiative. Rick Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians is optimistic. He told Modern Healthcare (4/9/2007), "This is where the train is going in terms of how physicians are going to be getting paid in the future."

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