|ENVISION HEALTHCARE CORP filed this Form 10-Q on 11/03/2017|
may not be more than 2% for a FFY (federal fiscal year). The sequestration cuts have been extended through FFY 2025. In addition, the Health Reform Law contains a number of provisions designed to reduce Medicare program spending. We cannot predict what other deficit reduction initiatives may be proposed by Congress, whether Congress will attempt to restructure or suspend sequestration or the impact sequestration may have on our business.
Physician services payment. Medicare pays for physician services based upon the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS), which contains a list of uniform payment rates. These payment rates are determined based on national relative value units (RVU), which CMS assigns to most medical procedures and services in an effort to capture the various resources required by a physician to provide the service relative to all other services. Each RVU is calculated based on a combination of work required in terms of time and intensity of effort for the service, practice expense attributable to the service and malpractice insurance expense attributable to the service. The work, practice expense, and malpractice insurance elements are each modified by a geographic adjustment factor to account for local practice costs and then aggregated. MACRA provides for an increase of 0.5% to the MPFS reimbursement rate each calendar year through 2019, partially offset by various adjustments and policy updates, and outlines a new method for determining updates thereafter. In 2017, after accounting for various adjustments, payment rates under the MPFS will be 0.24% more than 2016 payment rates.
In addition, MACRA required the establishment of the Quality Payment Program (QPP), a payment methodology intended to reward high-quality patient care. Beginning in 2017, physicians and certain other health care clinicians are required to participate in one of two QPP tracks. Under both tracks, as currently structured, performance data collected in 2017 will affect Medicare payments in 2019. CMS expects to transition increasing financial risk to providers as the QPP evolves. The Advanced Alternative Payment Model (Advanced APM) track makes incentive payments available for participation in specific innovative payment models approved by CMS. Providers may earn a 5% Medicare incentive payment and will be exempt from the reporting requirements and payment adjustments imposed under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) if the provider has sufficient participation (based on percentage of payments or patients) in an Advanced APM. Alternatively, providers may participate in the MIPS track. Providers electing this option may receive payment incentives or be subject to payment reductions of up to 4% of the provider’s Medicare payments based on their performance with respect to clinical quality, resource use, clinical improvement activities, and meaningful use of EHRs. The adjustment percentage will increase incrementally, up to 9%, by 2022. MIPS will consolidate components of several existing physician incentive programs: the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Physician Value-Based Payment Modifier, and the Medicare EHR Incentive Program.
ASC payments. Medicare reimburses facility services provided by ASCs under a system that is primarily linked to HOPD payments, which are set under the hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS). Reimbursement rates for ASCs are updated annually based on a conversion rate that accounts for changes in the consumer price index and a productivity adjustment. In 2016, CMS increased ASC reimbursement rates by 0.3%, which did not have a significant impact on our 2016 ambulatory services revenues. For 2017, CMS has increased ASC reimbursement rates by 1.9%. However, based on our current procedure mix, the impact of these rate adjustments would result in a reduction in our ambulatory services revenue of approximately $2.5 million in 2017. We estimate that ASC reimbursement rates for 2018, which were finalized on November 1, 2017 but are still being evaluated, would positively impact our 2018 ambulatory services revenue by approximately $6.9 million.
Health reform. In recent years, the U.S. Congress and certain state legislatures have passed a large number of laws and regulations intended to result in significant change across the healthcare industry. The most prominent of these reform efforts, the Health Reform Law, expands health insurance coverage through a combination of public program expansion and private sector health reforms. For example, the Health Reform Law expanded eligibility under existing Medicaid programs in states that have not opted out of Medicaid expansion provisions. Private health insurance market reforms include a ban on lifetime limits and pre-existing condition exclusions, new benefit mandates, and increased dependent coverage. As currently structured, the Health Reform Law requires many health plans to cover certain preventive services designated by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, including screening colonoscopies.
We believe that health insurance market reforms that expand health insurance coverage have resulted in increased volumes of certain procedures. However, the future of the Health Reform Law is uncertain as a result of efforts by the president and certain members of Congress to repeal, revise or replace, or alter the implementation of the Health Reform Law through legislative or executive actions. We cannot predict whether the Health Reform Law will be repealed or whether or how the Health Reform Law or its implementation will ultimately be changed. The impact of repeal or any such changes to the Healthcare Reform Law on the healthcare industry and our business is unknown.