The CMS called its first round of incentive payments to physicians through a pay-for-reporting initiative a first step; if thats so, its a very small step, industry executives say.
The CMS is handing out $36 million to healthcare professionals who participated in the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative in 2007 and submitted quality data on services provided between July and December 2007. That equates to about $600 for an individual and $4,700 for a group practice. Of the 109,000 healthcare professionals who participated, 52%, or 56,700, will receive the 1.5% bonus on Medicare charges.
The money is only a small incentive; its not the main focus for any doctor who wants to conduct quality improvement and participate in incentive programs, said Harold Williamson, a physician and professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. This 1.5% is not going to make doctors flock towards it.
Because the idea of financial incentives is still new, many in healthcare dont know enough yet about the process to determine at what bonus level it is worthwhile to get involved, Williamson added.
The CMS said that when it announced the incentive payments last week, the payments were a positive step toward reporting quality information and that the 2008 program would be enhanced.
The Medicare bill passed last week extends the PQRI for two more years through 2010 and increases the bonus by 2%.
Having physicians participate in reporting initiatives increases the focus on quality improvement, but the first round of PQRI indicates pretty meager reporting levels, said Blair Childs, spokesman for Premier. Premier, which partners with the CMS on hospital pay-for-performance programs, would like the measures in incentive programs to align for both hospitals and physicians, he said.