2 physician payment model advisers abruptly resign from MACRA committee

Two members of a government advisory committee tasked with overseeing physician-focused payment models abruptly resigned out of frustration with federal agencies, according to their resignation letters.

Harold Miller, president and CEO of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, and Len Nichols, PhD, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics and a health policy professor at Fairfax, Va.-based George Mason University, resigned from the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee Nov. 19-20.

PTAC was created under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 and aimed to improve how federal Medicare programs pay physicians. Out of more than 30 payment models proposed to PTAC, Mr. Miller and Dr. Nichols said PTAC recommended HHS implement and test 16 of them. But HHS hasn't tested any of them, and Secretary Alex Azar told Mr. Miller none will be tested.

"I do not want to be part of a process that misleads physicians and other stakeholders into thinking that if they develop a good physician-focused payment model, go through the rigorous review process PTAC has established, and receive a positive recommendation, they will have a chance of seeing their work implemented," Mr. Miller wrote in his letter.

Dr. Nichols echoed Mr. Miller's frustration in his letter shared with Becker's, saying, "the PTAC is ineffective at its mission and ... fundamental change is necessary, and I hope my resignation will be seen as the cry for help that it is."

Mr. Miller noted he believes some language used to imply PTAC's involvement in three new federal payment models for primary, kidney and oncology care is "simply false."

Dr. Nichols ended his letter by saying, "I hope my resignation (and those of others) might spur a re-examination of departmental priorities and processes so that a more fruitful process of taking physician payment reform ideas from the field may be created as soon as possible."

Becker's reached out to CMS, who directed comment to HHS. In an emailed statement, HHS said "we want to thank Harold Miller and Len Nichols for their contributions as members of the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee. PTAC's in-depth deliberations and recommendations are invaluable to HHS and CMS in crafting physician models. HHS and CMS are committed to value-based care, working with stakeholders, and using the extensive work of PTAC to inform physician models implemented through the CMS Innovation Center."

Editor's note: This article was updated to include comment from HHS.

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