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CMS expands MIPS reporting relief for providers in disaster-stricken areas: 8 things to know

CMS expanded its 2017 Merit-based Incentive Payment System data reporting exemption for healthcare professionals practicing in areas hit by hurricanes and wildfires, Medscape reports

Here are eight things to know:

1. Medicare is in the process of implementing MIPS, which is intended to improve quality of care by attaching a portion of Medicare reimbursement to the quality of the provided service. CMS stated it wants to spare physicians in areas hit by disasters from 2019 reductions in Medicare pay due to a failure to submit complete information about their 2017 performance.

2. Earlier, CMS allowed MIPS reporting relief for physicians practicing in counties hit by wildfires in northern California and regions affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. On Thursday, Feb. 1, CMS said it also will apply the "extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy" to counties affected by Hurricane Nate and to additional counties affected by the California wildfires.

3. CMS said physicians in those regions can automatically receive a "neutral MIPS payment adjustment" unless they opt to submit data for performance categories.

4. The policy now will apply to more counties throughout California, including:

  • Orange and Ventura
  • Butte
  • Lake
  • Mendocino
  • Napa
  • Nevada
  • Santa Barbara
  • Solano
  • Sonoma
  • Yuba.

5. The policy also has been expanded to these Alabama counties:

  • Autauga
  • Baldwin
  • Choctaw
  • Clarke
  • Dallas
  • Macon
  • Mobile
  • Washington                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

6. In Mississippi, the exemption applies in the following counties:                                                                                                                                                               

  • George
  • Greene
  • Hancock
  • Harrison
  • Jackson
  • Stone

7. Alabama and Mississippi were hit by Hurricane Nate in October. Wildfires in Southern California caused more than 150 Providence St. Joseph Health workers to lose their homes, with many still living in temporary housing, according to Rod Hochman, MD, Providence CEO.

8. Providers are not required to submit applications to reweight MIPS performance categories. CMS said it will be able to automatically identify healthcare providers who qualify for this help.

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