Physician group applauds Voluntary Medicare Quality Reporting Act

June 13, 2007

Washington, DC-A group representing 11 medical specialty organizations-including the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery-and more than 200,000 physicians is applauding the Voluntary Medicare Quality Reporting Act (VMQRA) of 2007, S. 1519, introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA).

Washington, DC-A group representing 11 medical specialty organizations-including the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery-and more than 200,000 physicians is applauding the Voluntary Medicare Quality Reporting Act (VMQRA) of 2007, S. 1519, introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA).

The proposed legislation would amend a provision of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, which required the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop a new quality reporting system by 2008, before the conclusion of the 6-month trial Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI).

“Last year’s act . . . . does not provide sufficient time to evaluate the trial 6-month PQRI before moving forward,” said ophthalmologist Priscilla Arnold, MD, of the Alliance of Specialty Medicine. “Nor does it establish a clearly defined process for developing and endorsing quality measures.”

The VMQRA, which would be implemented by Jan. 1, 2010, would establish a new timeline and revised processes for quality measure reporting by physicians:
• The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be required to evaluate the 6-month trial PQRI and report those findings to Congress by June 1, 2008;
• A uniform process would be established to identify medical conditions for which quality measures are developed, endorsed, and implemented;
• Demonstration projects would help establish mechanisms for physicians to report data through a medical registry; and
• Physicians could continue reporting on measures developed in the PQRI. The HHS secretary could refine reporting systems.

Also under the act, medical organizations would help establish evidence-based quality measures. The American Medical Association’s Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement would be the focal point for designating clinical areas in need of quality measures. In collaboration with medical specialty organizations and others, the consortium would develop quality measures, which then would be forwarded to a consensus organization such as the National Quality Forum for endorsement.

The HHS secretary would be prohibited from using any measures not developed through this process.