Tag Archives: Pamela Pelizzari

Important considerations for Medicare premium support program

Policymakers sometimes point to Medicare premium support programs as a possible cost-reduction solution for the federal health insurance program. In this article, Milliman’s Catherine Murphy-Barron and Pamela Pelizzari discuss some of the key financial and insurance issues involved in premium support proposals for Medicare Part A and Part B. The authors also explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of such an approach.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

A premium support model has the potential to fundamentally change the way Medicare benefits are provided to eligible individuals. Such a model would substantially influence both beneficiary and federal spending far into the future.

Financially, the possible implications of some premium support models have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to demonstrate the level of savings or costs to the federal government and affected beneficiaries. Under the options examined, the CBO found that net federal spending for Medicare would decrease in 2024 relative to current law by $84 billion (a 9% decrease) in the second-lowest-bid option (where the federal contribution is set at the second-lowest bid), and by $41 billion (a 4% decrease) in the average-bid option (where the federal contribution is set at the average bid). However, it is worth noting that the CBO projected an increase in spending by beneficiaries on their own premiums and care in the second-lowest-bid option.8

From a beneficiary perspective, the design of any premium support model would be under pressure to demonstrate that beneficiaries would have access to comprehensive coverage for an affordable price. Without sufficient information on the similarities and differences among various plans, beneficiaries may be at a disadvantage in terms of their ability to identify plans that best meet their needs. Financially, beneficiaries are at risk of incurring an increasing percentage of the cost of these plans if the federal contribution is less than the cost of the plans. In the second-lowest bid option that was scored by the CBO, beneficiaries’ spending was projected to increase by 18% (including both premiums and other out-of-pocket costs) in 2024 relative to the amount projected under current law, which represents a substantial increase in out-of-pocket costs for the same level of care.9

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.

Exploring the nuances of MACRA

The major terms and conditions of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) are becoming more well-known during the first performance year, but some aspects of the new physician payment system law still can be elusive for physician practices and other healthcare organizations. In this article, Milliman’s Pamela Pelizzari discusses details that may be overlooked regarding participation in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System track and the advanced alternative payment model track of MACRA.

This article was published by the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

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.

An early look at Medicare’s episode payment models

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking on July 25, 2016, that includes three major areas of focus:

• The creation of three new Medicare Parts A and B episode payment models (EPMs) under section 1115A of the Social Security Act
• The creation of a new cardiac rehabilitation incentive payment model
• Modifications to the existing Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model

In addition to these major areas of focus, CMS also addresses the potential future of Medicare bundled payment models, indicating its intention to continue a voluntary bundled payment model after the conclusion of the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative, designed to help providers meet the criteria to take advantage of an Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM), and inviting input on potential future condition-specific episode payment models.

In this article, Milliman’s Pamela Pelizzari outlines the major provisions of the proposed rule and offers perspective on some possible implications for affected providers.

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.