Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and his Republican counterpart on the committee, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), said that they want to better link Medicare physician payments to the quality of care thats given and outlined to the CMS a series of ways they can do so.
In a Jan. 23 letter to acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems, Baucus and Grassley urged the CMS to enact a handful of changes to the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, or PQRI, that were outlined in Medicare legislation passed in December.
At the top of the senators list are provisions that involve: use of National Quality Forum-endorsed measures; a focus on patients with chronic conditions; use of clinical databases to better target physician-practice data; permitting quality reporting by group practices.
Those changes and others, the senators said, should be done in a transparent way. In the letter, Baucus and Grassley said that they want the CMS to post on its Web sitein a user-friendly formatthe names of clinicians and group practices that participate in the PQRI.
Baucus said that the moves would allow for a greater focus on patient outcomes. Everyone knows that our healthcare system needs reform, Baucus said in a written statement. One of its greatest weaknesses is that we are paying for more and more medical services, without distinguishing between higher and lower quality care that patients receive. -- by Matthew DoBias
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