Christine Cassel, M.D., president and CEO, National Quality Forum

The National Quality Forum has come out in strong support of a proposed standardized quality measures, such as skin integrity, across different types of post-acute care settings. Uniform assessments are seen as a necessary step to site-neutral payments.

Implementing the quality measures in the bipartisan “Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014,” would be a step toward “strengthening quality in the post-acute setting,” NQF President and CEO Christine K. Cassel, M.D., wrote in a recent letter to Congressional leaders.

NQF specifically expressed support for the quality measures floated in the bill. The legislation calls for, “at a minimum,” measures on functional status, skin integrity, medication reconciliation, major falls and patient preferences regarding treatment and discharge options. The measures would kick in between 2016 and 2018 for skilled nursing facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Home health agencies and long-term care hospitals would be on slightly different timelines.

The bill states that the quality measures should be endorsed by the National Quality Forum when possible. In administering Medicare and similar programs, the federal government frequently turns to NQF, a nonprofit organization that convenes expert committees to evaluate and endorse quality measures.

Once standard assessments are in place, post-acute care providers can be compared on quality and payment systems can be reformed accordingly, the IMPACT Act notes. It calls for policymakers to use standardized assessment data to pursue ideas such as site-neutral payments.

The IMPACT Act is based largely on provider input solicited by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees. Companion versions of the measure were introduced in both houses of Congress in late June. The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living and other long-term care provider groups have called for its swift passage.