HHS Secretary Sebelius Releases Medicare Value-Based Purchasing Program Report to Congress

WASHINGTON DC, April 18, 2011 – The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) today commended US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and HHS for laying out a framework to establish a Medicare value-based purchasing (VBP) program for ambulatory surgery centers (ASC). The secretary’s report incorporates many recommendations offered by the ASC community and addresses many of the concerns that members of the ASC community suggested that the program needs to accommodate.

“The ASC community has long advocated for quality reporting that allows for meaningful comparisons across surgical settings, and we are pleased to see this initiative advance,” said ASC Association Board Chair David Shapiro, MD. “We remain concerned, however, that this report suggests that the quality reporting program will not be implemented in the near future, and we would like to see that timetable stepped up.”

“ASCA is also pleased to see that so many of the recommendations that the various members of the ASC community have suggested and supported over time have been included in this plan,” added ASCA Executive Director William Prentice. “As the report notes, HHS currently lacks the statutory authority to enact this plan. To assist with that process, we are currently working with the other members of the ASC community—including the many medical specialty societies whose members are affected by developments affecting ASCs—to introduce legislation that would give HHS that authority.”

Some of the aspects of the HHS plan that members of the ASC community support include

  • acknowledgement of the need to align measures across payment systems and the importance of minimizing the reporting burden associated with VBP,
  • recognition of the ASC quality measures developed by the ASC Quality Collaboration and endorsed by the National Quality Forum as measures quality reporting should incorporate,
  • a multi-stakeholder process for measure selection,
  • claims-based reporting as one of several reporting options, and
  • the inclusion of a shared savings plan among the possible quality bonus funding options.

ASCA is a national, nonprofit association that represents the interests of those who own, operate and seek the services of ASCs throughout the nation. The organization represents more than 2,600 ASCs, the professionals who provide care in such ASCs and the patients who seek care there. Visit the association online at www.ascassociation.org.