Specialty alliance applauds proposed Medicare voluntary reporting act

June 21, 2007

A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate, The Voluntary Medicare Quality Reporting Act of 2007, S. 1519, is being applauded by the Washington-based Alliance of Specialty Medicine, which has sought such a reporting system with a phase-in period.

A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate, The Voluntary Medicare Quality Reporting Act of 2007, S. 1519, is being applauded by the Washington-based Alliance of Specialty Medicine, which has sought such a reporting system with a phase-in period.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), would modify a provision of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. The 2007 version mandates that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services build a new quality reporting system by 2008-before the 6-month trial Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) ends.

“Last year’s act, establishing the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, has a number of shortcomings,” said Priscilla Arnold, MD, of the Alliance, which represents 11 medical specialty organizations, including AUA. “It does not provide sufficient time to evaluate the trial 6-month PQRI before moving forward. Nor does it establish a clearly defined process for developing and endorsing quality measures, making certain the measures are developed through the AMA’s Physician Consortium by the medical specialties.”

The revised act would enable physicians to report quality measures in a more feasible timeframe. The phase-in has four components:
• The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would evaluate and report findings of the trial program to Congress by June 1, 2008.
• A consistent process would be developed to name medical conditions for which quality measures are developed, endorsed, and implemented.
• Demonstration projects would establish methods for physicians to report data via a medical registry.
• Physicians could continue reporting on measures created in the 2007 trial program.

The goal is that by Jan. 1, 2010, the federal government could implement a voluntary reporting program with consistent rules that define evidence-based quality measures, according to Dr. Arnold.