On July 12, 2018, CMS released a statement proposing significant changes to Medicare that would modernize and restructure the Medicare program to deliver increased quality of care at a lower cost to the beneficiaries. This will be done by utilizing a value-based healthcare system that works with modern-day technology. The proposal primarily alters the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program.
CMS’s proposal coincides with its Patients Over Paperwork initiative, because it reduces the paperwork requirements for billing, thereby enabling doctors to spend more time with their patients. The proposed changes to the Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program will streamline documentation requirements to reduce the administrative burdens on providers. Generally, providers create medical records that use boiler plate language to satisfy Medicare billing requirements, which often contain few details specific to the patient and their personal stories. Allowing providers to designate a plan of care based upon what the provider determines from the time spent with the patient and not based upon E/M documentation guidelines will significantly increase the quality of care.
If the proposal is effectuated, it will modernize payment policies so that telehealth will be more available to Medicare beneficiaries. When a beneficiary virtually contacts their provider (through telephone or other telecommunication devices) to figure out whether they need and in-office visit or not, Medicare would cover this service. Additionally, there would be coverage for a physician’s time when they review images or videos sent to them for a diagnosis. CMS would also like to have a patient’s updated medical records follow the patient throughout the healthcare system. This would increase transparency and collaboration by allowing all of the patient’s providers to see the patient’s medical history in full.