Tag Archives: alternative payment contracts

Yearly shared-risk arrangement check-up considerations

Providers should review contract provisions with Medicare Advantage organizations (MAOs) as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revenue adjustments yearly to understand the financial implications of their shared-risk arrangements. Milliman’s Simon Moody and Kim Hiemenz offer perspective in their article “Providers should do annual check-ups on Medicare Advantage risk-sharing contracts.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Many providers enter into shared-risk arrangements with MAOs. The most common method used in MA shared-risk arrangements is a medical loss ratio (MLR) target, i.e., claims divided by revenue. This type of arrangement is often referred to as a “Percentage of Premium.” Revenue includes both member premium and CMS revenue. This approach is often used for MA risk deals because it aligns the carrier’s and provider’s incentives, particularly the incentive to ensure accurate coding. An MAO’s revenue from CMS is directly tied to its risk score; that is, if an MAO’s risk score improves, then its revenue increases. All else equal, as revenue improves, the medical loss ratio also improves. Thus, MA coding improvement creates a win-win situation for both plan and provider in MLR target arrangements.

Significant revenue components are outside the control of MAOs

Cost targets based on revenue introduce additional considerations because there are a number of factors that affect the revenue an MAO will receive from CMS. Many of these factors are beyond the control of both the MAO and the provider because they are set by CMS. Changes in these “external” factors will directly affect the MLR and significant changes in these factors from one year to the next could inadvertently make the target MLR stated in the shared risk arrangement inconsistent with the parties’ goals.

Figure 1 includes key factors set by CMS that influence an MAO’s revenue.

Developing population health management programs under risk-based contracts

Risk-based contracts are driving the development of population health management programs (PHMPs) that are designed to achieve the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim goals. Health systems may need to redesign how they deliver healthcare to meet these goals. Risk-based contracts often give providers both the financial flexibility and incentive to redesign care.

In the article “Population health management program development: The path to the Triple Aim,” Milliman’s Nick Creten and Blaine Miller discuss the following five steps healthcare organizations must address when developing a PHMP in a risk-based contracting environment.

Step 1: Assess population costs, utilization, and risk
Step 2: Identify opportunities
Step 3: Segmentation
Step 4: Intervention development
Step 5: Monitor, assess, and improve

Qualifying APM participant considerations

This paper by Milliman’s Charlie Mills, Pamela Pelizzari, and Christopher Kunkel explores the challenges and opportunities regarding participation in an Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) track under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The authors also discuss why becoming Qualifying APM Participants (QPs) may be desirable to some providers as well as the risks they might encounter through the process.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Opportunities associated with QP status

Financial opportunities

Despite the potential downsides to participating in Advanced APMs and seeing QP status, there are also potential financial benefits, including the following:

A lump-sum payment equal to 5% of their prior year’s payments for Part B covered professional services. QPs can become eligible for this lump-sum incentive payment for years 2019 through 2024. Overall, this is the primary financial opportunity for QPs.

Insulation from the potential downside of the MIPS adjustment. In general, MIPS is a budget-neutral (i.e., zero-sum) program, with a financial downside of 4% in 2019, growing to 9% in 2022. Because QPs and Partial QPs are excluded from MIPS, they are not exposed to MIPS’s downside and do not have to navigate the hundreds of quality and performance measures that make up MIPS.

Opportunities for shared savings from the Advanced APM. QPs will have the opportunity to share in gains (and will generally be required to share in losses) from the Advanced APMs they participate in.

Higher conversion factor increases starting in 2026. Starting in payment year 2026, QPs will receive a conversion factor increase of 0.75% compared with 0.25% for non-QPs. Over time, this could result in significantly higher payment rates for QPs versus non-QPs.

Clinical integration benefits

Several of the currently available Advanced APMs aim to align incentives across different types of providers. For example, ACOs encourage physicians and hospitals to work together to ensure beneficiaries receive appropriate care that can keep them healthy and out of hospitals. In many cases, however, individual physicians do not see the financial benefits of these programs without entering into what can be complex and time-consuming gainsharing arrangements. By providing a 5% lump-sum incentive payment to QPs, MACRA serves to create an even greater incentive for physicians to participate actively in Advanced APMs.

While other payer Advanced APMs do not contribute to QP threshold calculations until performance year 2019 (incentive payment year 2021), it’s possible that the increased engagement physicians have in Advanced APMs that is due to MACRA will have trickle-down effects on other lines of business and patient populations beyond Medicare fee-for-service. This could serve to improve the quality of care and reduce costs for patients covered by other payers.

Overview of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System

As part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) seeks to tie Medicare payments to provider performance within the fee-for-service (FFS) system.

In her article “MIPS adjustment overview,” Milliman’s Pamela Pelizzari discusses the MIPS inclusion criteria and the MIPS Composite Performance Score (CPS). She also demonstrates how the CPS leads to the determination of the MIPS adjustment factor and explores the effect of changing practices on both the CPS and MIPS adjustment factor.

The article is part of a series examining the impacts of MACRA on providers, alternative payment models, and health plans. To read other articles in the series, click here.

Advanced APM considerations for clinicians

Two value-based reimbursement models exist under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) that tie Part B payments to clinician performance: the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (Advanced APM) track. The Advanced APM track encourages groups of clinicians to shift from fee-for-service to delivery models in which clinicians assume more accountability and risk for the cost and quality of care. In the initial years of the program, MACRA provides incentive payments to early APM adopters.

This paper written by Milliman’s Lynn Dong and Pamela Pelizzari explores the definition of an Advanced APM, how providers can qualify to be paid under the provisions of the Advanced APM track instead of under MIPS, and why that might be desirable. In addition, the authors highlight the need for careful evaluation regarding APM participation because there is often a complex interaction between the risk inherent in an Advanced APM and the benefits under MACRA.

The article is part of a series examining the impacts of MACRA on providers, alternative payment models, and health plans. To read other articles in the series, click here.

MACRA considerations for health plans

In the article “MACRA: Key considerations for health plans,” Milliman consultants Colleen Norris and Mary van der Heijde answer four questions health insurers need to consider about how the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) will affect their business:

• How does MACRA affect providers?
• Why is Qualifying Participant status so desirable, yet so challenging to achieve?
• What opportunities might MACRA provide for a health plan?
• For a health plan, what are the challenges associated with MACRA?

The article is part of a series examining the impacts of MACRA on providers, alternative payment models, and health plans. To read other articles in the series, click here.