June 13, 2017
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
P.O. Box 8011
Baltimore, MD 21244-8050
RE: CMS–1677–P Medicare Program: Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Proposed Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2018 Rates
To Whom It May Concern:
As participants in the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC), we appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Medicare Program Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment proposed rule.
AVAC consists of over 50 organizational leaders in health and public health that are committed to addressing the range of barriers to adult immunization and to raising awareness of the importance of adult immunization. AVAC works towards common legislative and regulatory solutions that will strengthen and enhance access to adult immunization across the health care system.
Our mission is informed by a growing body of scientific and empirical evidence in support of the benefits immunizations provide by improving health, protecting lives against a variety of debilitating and potentially deadly conditions and saving costs to the healthcare system and to society as a whole. AVAC priorities and objectives are driven by a consensus process with the goal of enabling the range of stakeholders to have a voice in the effort to improve access and utilization of adult immunizations.
One of our key coalition priorities is to advocate for federal benchmarks and quality measures to encourage improved tracking and reporting of immunization status that will result in increased adult immunization rates. Immunization quality measures are a crucial tool for health care quality improvement and have demonstrated effectiveness in increasing immunization rates.
Influenza Quality Measures. Preventing transmission of influenza and other infectious agents within inpatient hospital settings requires a multi-faceted approach since the spread of influenza can occur among patients, Health Care Professionals (HCP), and visitors. Quality measurement programs through Medicare play a critical role in promoting improved quality and encouraging adherence to the annual influenza vaccine.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends an annual influenza vaccination for all people age 6 months or older. Each year, influenza causes approximately 200,000 hospitalizations and an average of 36,000 deaths in the United States each year. According to a study in the Journal of Primary Prevention, this vaccine-preventable disease costs the United States about $8.3 billion annually to treat among US adults 65 and over. Influenza immunization measures help increase access and utilization of this important vaccine by patients and health care providers alike.
Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR). We support the proposal to maintain the Chart-Abstracted Clinical Process of Care Measure Influenza Immunization IMM-2 (NQF #1659) and Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Healthcare Personnel (NQF#0431) as part of the program for FY 2019 and FY 2020 payment determination and subsequent years. These measures play a critical role in the CMS Quality Strategy as well as the National Quality Strategy in terms of influenza immunization efforts.
PPS-exempt Cancer Hospital Quality Reporting Program (PCHQR). We support the proposal to maintain Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Healthcare Personnel (NQF#0431) as part of the program for the FY 2020 payment determination and subsequent years. Ensuring healthcare personnel vaccination adherence against influenza has been shown to improve patient safety and reduce disease transmission, which is essential for immunocompromised patients in the cancer hospital setting.
Long-term Care Hospitals Quality Reporting Program (LTCHQRP). The proposed rule discusses recent CMS efforts to identify standardized patient assessment data that could be incorporated into assessment instruments across post-acute care settings. Streamlining adult immunization quality measures across health care settings is an AVAC priority and supports this effort. Greater consistency in quality measurement tools will facilitate data exchange across health care providers as well as improve care coordination and ultimately patient outcomes. In that vein, preventing transmission of influenza virus within healthcare settings requires a multi-faceted, cross-cutting approach.
AVAC supports the proposal to maintain the Percent of Residents or Patients Who Were Assessed and Appropriately Given the Seasonal Influenza Vaccine (Short Stay) (NQF #0680) and Influenza Vaccination Coverage among Healthcare Personnel (NQF #0431) quality measures in the LTCH QRP.
In addition, data transparency of reported measures is an important tool for patients and families seeking to evaluate LTCH settings and an essential component in the identification and management of influenza outbreaks. We agree that public reporting LTCH QRP data on a CMS website, such as Hospital Compare and support the inclusion of the two above measures in this effort. Tracking vaccine status among health care workers has the ability to increase vaccination rates and reduce absenteeism among healthcare personnel. 1
Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting (IPFQR) Program. We support the proposal to maintain the Chart-Abstracted Clinical Process of Care Measure Influenza Immunization IMM-2 (NQF #1659) and Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Healthcare Personnel (NQF#0431) as part of the program for FY 2020 payment determination and subsequent years. These measures play a critical role in the CMS Quality Strategy as well as the National Quality Strategy in terms of influenza immunization efforts.
Social Risk Factors. AVAC coalition members are working on projects that seek to identify and enhance our understanding of coverage gaps and are developing pilot programs to test targeted solutions where these disparities currently exist. The proposed rule indicates that CMS is currently reviewing reports by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on accounting for social risk factors in the Hospital IQR Program. We support the idea of future stratification of Hospital IQR Program data by race, ethnicity, geographic area, sex, and disability on Hospital Compare, as well as on potential future hospital quality measures that incorporate health equity. Additionally, we recommend that the data also be stratified by primary language. Together, this type of data will enable more accurate evaluation in coverage gaps and disparities, particularly among minority and vulnerable populations, and are essential to improving the impact of adult immunization efforts and expanding coverage.
New Measures. We value your request for comment on potential new quality measures under consideration for future inclusion in the Hospital IQR Program. we urge CMS to work with NQF, NCQA, PQA and other stakeholders to develop, test and implement quality measures that reflect all ACIP recommended vaccinations relevant to the Medicare population, based on age and health status. The 2014 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that publicly-reported CMS measures were much more feasible than measures reported by other sources to stimulate high levels of performance. Additionally, CMS’ Quality Improvement Network Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) 11th Scope of Work (SOW) includes strategies aimed at improving reporting of all adult immunizations and increasing immunization rates among the Medicare population.
In particular, the current lack of pneumococcal quality measures in Medicare inpatient hospital quality reporting programs is a missed opportunity to improve health and reduce unnecessary federal expenditures on treatment and hospitalizations as a result of this vaccine preventable disease. Pneumonia is responsible for over a million hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths each year in the United States. Vaccines are an effective intervention against the high cost of medical care and rates of preventable death associated with this disease, particularly among medically vulnerable populations and the elderly. That is why the 2014 ACIP recommendations call for adults aged 65 years or older and individuals with underlying immunocompromising health conditions between 19 and 64 years of age to receive both PCV13 and PPSV23. ACIP also recommends PPSV23 for adults 19 through 64 years of age with underlying chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, liver disease or lung disease (including people who smoke or have asthma). We strongly encourage CMS to prioritize adding the pneumococcal immunization measurement back into the Hospital IQR program and across the other inpatient hospital quality reporting programs.
We appreciate this opportunity to share our perspective on this proposed rule. Please contact an AVAC Coalition Manager at (202) 540-1070 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to further discuss our comments. To learn more about the work of AVAC visit www.adultvaccinesnow.org.
Alliance for Aging Research
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Immunization Action Coalition
The Gerontological Society of America
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID)