CMS’ Verma announces new meaningful measures initiative

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the initiative will help ease regulatory burdens that are destroying the doctor-patient relationship.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will roll out a new initiative to streamline quality measures, according to Seema Verma, administrator of the agency.

Verma announced the new approach, “Meaningful Measures,” at a plenary session today at the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN) Fall Summit in Arlington, Virginia.

Seema Verma
Seema Verma

“We need to move from fee-for-service to a system that pays for value and quality—but how we define value and quality today is a problem,” Verma said in the official announcement. “We all know it: Clinicians and hospitals have to report an array of measures to different payers. There are many steps involved in submitting them, taking time away from patients. Moreover, it’s not clear whether all of these measures are actually improving patient care.”

Meaningful Measures will allow providers to assess core issues that are most vital to providing high-quality care and improving patient outcomes. The agency, she said, aims to focus on outcome-based measures going forward, as opposed to trying to micromanage processes. It also wants to promote efforts that will give providers more flexibility in innovation and patient engagement and minimize administrative burdens associated with the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act.

“Our overall vision is to reinvent the agency to put patients first,” she said during her address. “We want to partner with patients, providers, payers and others to achieve this goal.”

Her top priority, therefore, is to ease regulatory burden that she said is destroying the doctor-patient relationship. Although regulations are important to ensure quality and safety, she said if the rules are too complex or misguided, they can have a “suffocating effect on healthcare delivery” by shifting the focus on unnecessary paperwork, and ultimately increase the cost of care.

Verma’s remarks come in the wake of her launch of a national listening tour to get feedback from providers on regulatory reform. The agency, she said wants to reduce unnecessary burden and increase efficiencies, so providers can spend more time with patients.