ASC officials praise quality reporting initiative

Those who fail will face 2% penalty

Leaders of the ambulatory surgery community are praising Congress for passing a provision that requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop quality reporting requirements for ambulatory surgery centers and hospital outpatient services.

The provision requires a full inflation update to hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgical facilities that provide designated quality data starting no sooner than 2009. It also requires CMS to develop quality measures for hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgery services using national consensus organizations. Failure to report will result in a 2% payment penalty of the inflation update, according to the American Association of American Surgery Centers (AAASC).

CMS will post reported information on its web site for public viewing.

As the collection of quality data is integrated into the Medicare program in 2009, physicians and patients will have more data with which to make informed choices about their surgical care, reports Marian Lowe, vice president of federal health policy, Strategic Health Care, a consulting firm in Washington, DC. "I believe that a body of evidence will emerge to document the high-quality care physicians and the ASCs they practice in provide every day," she says.

Craig Jeffries, executive director of AAASC, says, "Congress has made an important step to help inform the public about their choices and the safety of ASCs and to utilize the work of national consensus organizations like the [National Quality Forum] in developing consensus standards." The National Quality Forum is a not-for-profit membership organization focused upon the development of quality measurement and reporting systems for health care.