Category Archives: Medicare

Webinar: Medicare Advantage risk scores

Payment year 2017 is a key year for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, as encounter data is weighted 25% and has been shown to result in lower risk scores and revenue. An upcoming Milliman webinar hosted by Charlie Mills and Deana Bell will explore how MA plans have prepared for the transition to encounter data, and highlight best practices for monitoring financial results and encounter data submissions. The webinar entitled “Medicare Advantage risk scores: Best practices in financial monitoring and encounter data submissions” is scheduled for October 19 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. PT (2 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET).

For more information or to register, click here.

What predictive analytics can tell us about key drivers of MSSP results

We recently used machine learning techniques to understand key drivers of Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) financial performance. Of the 190 plus objective accountable care organization (ACO) features reviewed, ACO baseline efficiency proved to be the most important financial performance driver we identified. Another way of putting it is that MSSP rewarded inefficient ACOs more than ACOs that have attained efficiency.

You may be asking, “How did you measure baseline efficiency?” The chart below tells an interesting story.

We analyzed ACO baseline efficiency by reviewing ACO baseline expenditures that were unadjusted, risk-adjusted, and geographic-risk-adjusted. Risk-adjusted per capita expenditures were adjusted to account for each ACO’s average risk score and mix of entitlement categories. Geographic risk-adjusted per capita expenditures were adjusted to account for Medicare reimbursement levels in each ACO’s area.

Below are a few interesting notes:

1. Despite adjusting for risk levels, mix of entitlement categories, and reimbursement levels, there is still significant variation in baseline per capita expenditures. See the third column above for this wide range of variation.
2. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has already made MSSP rule changes that balance the rewards between ACOs at different levels of starting efficiencies. Past financial performance in MSSP agreement period 1 may not be a strong indicator of performance in agreement period 2. ACOs should understand how these rule changes affect them.

Beyond baseline efficiency, we found that several other features were strongly associated with gross savings:

1. National fee-for-service (FFS) trends higher than local market trends
2. Location in the Southeast and south central regions
3. Low performance year expenditures for short-term inpatient admissions
4. High baseline per capita expenditures, unadjusted
5. High CMS-hierarchical condition category (HCC) risk scores

However, we also found that these features still explained less than half of the variation in gross savings across ACOs. This may indicate that ACO care management efforts may be accounting for some of the remaining variation.

The full report is posted at Milliman Insight and includes a deeper dive into research conducted by Jill Herbold, Cory Gusland, and myself.

Using prescription drug data for identifying missing diagnoses and for medical management in the Medicare Advantage market

Even though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not use prescription data in assigning risk scores, Rx data can still be a valuable resource for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. Because the revenue for an MA plan each year is based on member diagnoses incurred in the prior year and submitted within 13 months of the end of that period, MA plans have a meaningful period of time to ensure complete and accurate coding as well as to identify members for disease management and potential drug adherence outliers. Milliman consultants Corey Berger and Brooks Conway provide perspective in this paper.

The “Rxisk” of adjustments in 2018 ACA risk adjustment

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is adding a new prescription drug category classification system to the 2018 risk adjustment model. Starting in 2018, a condition will be identified through a Hierarchical Condition Category with associated medical diagnosis codes, a prescribed medication, or both—each one affecting the final risk member score differently. This paper by Milliman consultants approximates the likely CMS mapping based on the publicly available information to date.

Inside Medicare’s episode payment models

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released final rules related to episode payment models on January 3, 2017, and May 19, 2017. This paper by Milliman consultants Pamela Pelizzari and Daniel Muldoon outlines the major provisions of the final rules and suggests possible implications for affected providers.

How the Medicare Advantage 2018 RxHCC risk score model update impacts plan risk scores

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized a Part D risk score model for payment year 2018. How does this model update affect plan risk scores? This paper by Milliman consultants Adrian Clark and David Koenig summarizes the changes in member risk scores that are due to the RxHCC risk score model update.