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How to Register for the 2016 PQRS Group Practice Reporting Option Call — Last Chance to Register

May 3, 2016

How to Register for the 2016 PQRS Group Practice Reporting Option Call — Last Chance to Register

Wednesday, May 4 from 3 to 4:30 pm ET
To Register: Visit MLN Connects Event Registration. Space may be limited, register early.

This call gives a walkthrough of the Physician Value – Physician Quality Reporting System (PV-PQRS) Registration System, an application that serves the PQRS and Value-Based Payment Modifier (Value Modifier) programs. Learn how to meet the satisfactory reporting criteria through the PQRS Group Reporting Option (GPRO), avoid the CY 2018 PQRS payment adjustment, and CY 2018 Value Modifier automatic downward payment adjustment. A question and answer session follows the presentation.

The PV-PQRS Registration System is open through June 30 for groups to select a GPRO reporting mechanism. See the PQRS GPRO Registration webpage for more information.


  • PQRS and Value Modifier: Incentives and adjustments for CY 2018
  • 2016 PQRS reporting criteria for group practices reporting via the GPRO, including the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) for PQRS survey
  • How to obtain an Enterprise Identity Management (EIDM) account
  • How to register for the PQRS GPRO in the PV-PQRS Registration System
  • Where to call for help and resources

Target Audience: Physicians, Medicare individual eligible professionals and group practices, therapists, medical group practices, practice managers, medical and specialty societies, payers, and insurers.

This MLN Connects Call is being evaluated by CMS for CME and CEU continuing education credit (CE). Refer to the call detail page for more information

Announcement from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 2, 2016

Special Edition – April 29, 2016

Historic Change to How Clinicians Are Paid – Comments Requested by June 27

At the heart of the proposed rule that CMS issued on April 27th is the Quality Payment Program which, beginning in 2019, would offer new systems for paying doctors and other clinicians who serve Medicare beneficiaries.   One, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), would evaluate the quality of care delivered based on four performance categories: cost, quality, exchange of information (use of electronic health records) and clinical practice improvement. The second system, advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs), offers higher financial incentive to clinicians who improve quality by coordinating care across providers and settings.  Initiatives for coordinated care include CMS’s Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model and Comprehensive Primary Care.

The rule would consolidate three existing payment programs under MIPS:  the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Physician Value-based Payment Modifier and the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program. It is the first step toward implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which aims to lower costs while raising quality of health care delivery.  It’s expected that most Medicare clinicians will initially participate in the MIPS program but over time will move toward the alternative payment model.

What do rural providers need to know?  First, that CMS needs your review and feedback to understand the challenges that are unique to rural areas and how these changes would affect your practice.  Once the proposed rule is officially published on May 9th, CMS will accept comments until Monday, June 27th.  Some key issues for your consideration:

  • For the first two years of MIPS, Eligible Professionals (EPs) would include physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified registered nurse anesthetists.  Other professionals may be added in later.
  • EPs below the low-volume threshold would be excluded from MIPS.  The proposal defines the threshold as having Medicare billing charges less than or equal to $10,000 and providing care for 100 or fewer Part B-enrolled Medicare beneficiaries.
  • The MIPS adjustment would apply to EPs who have assigned their billing rights to a Critical Access Hospital (i.e. Method II CAH billing).
  • Currently, Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers are excluded from reporting to MIPS since they are paid differently under Medicare. CMS is asking for comment on whether these safety net providers should but have the option to voluntarily report on applicable measures and activities with no penalty in order to remain in alignment with broader efforts under Delivery System Reform.
  • Only certain APMs are considered as qualifying for receipt of incentive payments and exclusion from MIPS payment adjustments.

CMS is providing opportunities to better understand the rule and provide early feedback through three sessions that are open to the public. Register now for an Overview of MACRA on Tuesday, May 3rd, an Overview of MIPS on Wednesday, May 4th, and an Overview of the Quality Payment Program on Tuesday, May 10th. Space for these webinars is limited and registration is required.  After your registration is completed, you will receive a follow-up e-mail with step-by-step instructions on how to log-in to the webinar.  CMS encourages review of the proposed rule (CMS-5517-P) prior to these listening sessions and reminds that the feedback you give will not be considered formal commenting.

Model program: faith groups & care coordination; Funding: USDA community facilities loan/grant program, American Indians into nursing; NRHA policy brief on opioid crisis; more

April 27, 2016

Rural Health Information Hub
View the 4.27.16 updates.

Rural Health Report

April 27, 2016

The new Health in Rural Missouri Report, is now available. If you have any thoughts/questions, or suggestions for the next report due in 2017, please do not hesitate to contact the State Office of Rural Health.

Nearly $12 million available for rural broadband grants!

April 26, 2016

USDA seeks applications for rural broadband grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting applications for grants to establish broadband in unserved rural communities through its Community Connect program. Administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, Community Connect helps fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not yet economically viable for private sector providers to deliver service.

USDA plans to award up to $11.7 million in grants through the program. Eligible applicants include:

  • Most state and local governments
  • Federally-recognized Tribes
  • Non-profit organizations
  • For-profit corporations

The minimum grant for FY16 is $100,000; the maximum award is $3 million. Prior Community Connect grants cannot be renewed, however, existing Community Connect awardees may submit applications for new projects. The deadline to apply is June 17, 2016.

To learn more about the grants and to apply for funding, please click here

The Rural Connection: Winter 2016

April 26, 2016

Generate and Diffuse Knowledge Regarding Rural Veteran Health

This issue of “The Rural Connection” highlights some of the many efforts underway to generate and diffuse knowledge to increase access to care and services for rural Veterans. This issue is the second in a four-part series on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ rural health strategic goals. In case you missed it, last quarter’s issue featured the promotion of health and well-being in the rural Veteran population.

In this issue:

Message from the Director of the VHA Office of Rural Health

Doing More for Veterans Through Strategic Partnerships

Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot Demonstrates Power of Community Partnerships

Telehealth Brings Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy into Veterans’ Homes

Easy as 1-2-3: Lower Your Risk for Diabetes

VA’s Innovators Network Aims to Improve the Way VA Serves Veterans

Providing Interdisciplinary Health Care via Televideo to Veterans with ALS

VA Reaches Indian Health Service and Tribal Health Programs with Rural Interdisciplinary Team Training Program

As you read throughout these articles focused on one of our four strategic goals, keep in mind our ultimate goal remains to improve the health and well-being of rural Veterans by increasing access to care and services.

Gina Capra, MPA
Director, Office of Rural Health


If you have any questions or would like additional information about ORH, contact ORH Communications.

As the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) lead proponent for rural health, the Office of Rural Health (ORH) works to see that America’s Veterans thrive in rural communities. To accomplish this, ORH collaborates to increase rural Veterans’ access to care and services. Learn more at

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

April 22, 2016

What’s New

CMS Announces Its Largest Primary Care Initiative. The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services recently launched the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) Model, which is expected to accommodate more than 20,000 providers and transform the way primary care is delivered. Building on the foundation of the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative, a four-year plan rolled out in October 2012, the CPC+ is a primary care medical home model redesigned with a multi-payer structure (Medicare, commercial and state payer partners).  The five-year initiative, set to start on January 1, 2017, is an opportunity for rural providers to gain access to financial resources and quality improvement efforts.  The five year initiative is set to start on January 1, 2017.  CMS will first solicit payer proposals to partner with Medicare and announce their selections by July 15, 2016.  After that, practices within geographic reach of the selected payers will be able to submit applications up to September 1, 2016.  For questions about the model or the solicitation process, please email

Profile:  San Luis Valley and the Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Program.  The primary challenge to implementing drug abuse treatment programs for the San Luis Valley (SLV) Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is a misperception that Naloxone, an “opioid antagonist” that reverses the effects of overdose, enables drug addiction. To overcome that challenge, SLV has focused on educating their community about the severity of opioid overdose, particularly among chronically ill patients and not recreational users, and emphasized the lives saved by Naloxone.  Just six months into their funding from FORHP’s Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant, SLV has held numerous  educational sessions and community workshops to bring providers, policymakers, and law enforcement up to speed with the opioid problem, stocked local pharmacies with Naloxone, and trained first-responders in administration of this potentially life-saving drug.  You can learn more about SLV’s Naloxone Education Empowerment Distribution Program (NEED) in the newest addition to Rural Health Models and Innovations at the Rural Health Information Hub.

Read more