ASPS advocacy results in significant improvements for physicians
Following extensive advocacy by ASPS and its members, Congress passed significant health care provisions in the two-year budget agreement reached early this morning and signed into law by President Trump. Many ASPS members have advocated for these changes during visits to Capitol Hill, which bolstered the Society's advocacy efforts and ultimately resulted in improved policy for plastic surgeons nationwide.
ASPS has continually advocated for changes to MACRA, MIPS and the QPP, and some of these concerns were addressed through the Continuing Resolution (CR). Improvement scoring for the cost performance category has been eliminated for years three through five of MIPS, which will directly impact members' MIPS score. This category has been assigned a new weight of no less than 10 percent during this period. Together, these will allow for a greater number of physicians to "ramp up" their analysis of the cost of care, ultimately achieve a positive score and avoid payment cuts through the program. The CR also provides CMS with greater flexibility in setting the yearly performance threshold, or the "break-even" point, for receiving a positive payment adjustment. These changes will offer greater ease to providers as they participate in the MIPS program.
The Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor has been changed from 0.5 to 0.25 percent. While a decrease, the amount represents a compromise that was reached after physicians expressed outrage to initially proposed conversion factor cuts in 2020 and to a policy that would have set Medicare payment rates to permanently drop to levels below their 2015 rates under the SGR. Many thanks to the ASPS members who responded to the action alert from earlier this week and sent letters to their members of Congress. This advocacy significantly decreased the initially catastrophic proposal.
The CR also addressed ASPS's concerns regarding meaningful use standards, which were slated to become more stringent. The new provisions will no longer require many physicians to apply for the hardship exemption.
We are also pleased to announce the permanent repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a highly problematic aspect of the Affordable Care Act. While never activated, the Board was tasked with making recommendations to reduce Medicare spending at the expense of physician reimbursement. ASPS members have advocated for the repeal of this Board during their visits to Capitol Hill since 2010. The repeal of this Board is a major victory for the specialty and we express sincere thanks to all members who joined us in these advocacy efforts.