GAO: CMS Could More Effectively Ensure Its Quality Measurement Activities Promote Its Objectives

Why GAO Did This Study

“To encourage greater value in health care, CMS adjusts its Medicare payments to many health care providers based on measures of the quality of care. Therefore, the decisions CMS makes to choose certain quality measures have significant consequences. These decisions may involve selecting specific existing measures for CMS to use, stopping the use of some measures, or identifying new measures to be developed.”

“The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 contains a provision for GAO to review CMS’s quality measurement activities. For this report, GAO (1) assessed the information CMS maintains on funding of health care quality measurement activities, and (2) described and assessed how CMS makes decisions to develop and to use quality measures. GAO analyzed CMS funding data for 2009 through 2018 and data on CMS quality measurement selections for 2014 through 2018. GAO reviewed CMS documentation related to its decisions on quality measurement and interviewed program and contractor officials.”

What GAO Found

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), maintains information on the amount of funding for activities to measure the quality of health care provided under Medicare. CMS’s information shows it has carried over from each year to the next large amounts of available funding—known as unobligated balances—for quality measurement activities from fiscal years 2010 through 2018 (see figure). CMS officials said they maintained such available funding to ensure there were no gaps in funding for future years. However, CMS officials also told GAO that the information it maintains does not identify all of the funding the agency has obligated for quality measurement activities. Further, it does not identify the extent to which this funding has supported CMS’s quality measurement strategic objectives, such as reducing the reporting burden placed on providers by CMS’s quality measures. With more complete and detailed information, CMS could better assess how well its funding supports its quality measurement objectives…”

What GAO Recommends

“GAO recommends that CMS (1) maintain more complete and detailed information on its funding for quality measurement activities, (2) establish procedures to systematically assess measures under consideration based on CMS’s quality measurement strategic objectives, and (3) develop and use performance indicators to evaluate progress in achieving its objectives. HHS concurred with all three recommendations…” Read the full 54-page report here.

Source: CMS Could More Effectively Ensure Its Quality Measurement Activities Promote Its Objectives – September 19, 2019. GAO.



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