Quality measurement is getting out of hand, MedPAC says

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Providers are being overly burdened by increasing numbers of quality measures, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission stated in a recent letter to a top health official. The government should take a step back and reevaluate its approach, the letter added.

The missive came in response to an annual list of quality measures that are under consideration, issued in December by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. This year's list ran to 329 pages and included hundreds of measures that might be adopted to ascertain the quality of care furnished by Medicare-certified providers.

The length of the list is a “telling symptom of the larger problem,” outgoing MedPAC Chairman Glenn Hackbarth wrote in the Jan. 5 letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

“Over the past few years, the Commission has become increasingly concerned that Medicare's current quality measurement approach is becoming ‘over-built,' and is relying on too many clinical process measures that are, at best, weakly correlated with health outcomes,” Hackbarth wrote.

MedPAC believes a better approach would be to focus on population-level outcome measures, such as potentially avoidable hospital readmissions, and be much more selective about clinical process measures, such as the percentage of heart patients who receive aspirin. This would lessen the burden on providers and put the focus more squarely on meaningful improvements, Hackbarth wrote.

Click here to see the complete letter.