Meeting with CMS Highlights Need to Reduce Administrative Burdens

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July 13, 2018 (ACP) – Armed with a firm message about the importance of putting patients first by eliminating administrative burdens physicians face, a team of American College of Physicians officials met in late June with Seema Verma, administrator of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The meeting was an extraordinary opportunity for ACP to make its case in person to a high-level member of the Trump administration, said Shari Erickson, ACP's vice president for governmental affairs and medical practice. And it appeared to pay dividends, she said.

“It's clear to me that the Trump administration is hearing us as we push to reduce administrative burdens on physicians, and they are making changes,” Erickson said. “The administrator herself is really interested in understanding the physician perspective. We are committed to continuing to share our perspective with them and explain both problem areas and our road map to reform.”

Erickson attended the meeting with Verma along with Dr. Ana María López, ACP's president, and ACP staff member Brooke Rockwern.

“We had requested this meeting with the administrator as part of our ongoing action plan to implement our Patients Before Paperwork Initiative, which led to the release of a paper last year outlining our position,” Erickson said. “Since that paper was released, we've continued that effort through an action plan that includes outreach to a variety of stakeholders. They include some of the sources of administrative burden: electronic health record vendors, private health plans and public health plans such as the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”

At the meeting, the ACP team addressed several topics regarding the reduction of burdens on physicians, including:

  • Streamlining or eliminating prior authorization requirements
  • Simplifying documentation requirements for Evaluation & Management (E/M) Services. “The documentation requirements in place right now for those codes come from 1995 and 1997,” Erickson said. “That alone tells you that they need to be updated.”
  • Improving interoperability – the ways that medical offices and systems pass information to each other – without burdening physicians with requirements that do nothing to boost clinical care.

ACP also wants to make sure that interoperability requirements don't mandate the transmission of unnecessary information about patients that physicians may not need to advance the care of the patient.

“ACP's position is that having a lot of data sent to you isn't as helpful as having the data you need to have at that time,” Erickson said. “You don't necessarily need every piece of data from every physician. You just need to know a few key things.”

Overall, the meeting with Verma went well, Erickson said. “She is appears to be engaged on a granular level with these issues that was refreshing and encouraging,” she said. “And she really wanted to know what this means from a clinician's perspective.”

The CMS administrator wants ACP to follow up with more details about these areas – something ACP is happy to do, Erickson said.

“Continuing the conversation is crucial to moving forward,” she said.

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Back to the July 13, 2018 issue of ACP Advocate