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National Quality Forum Testifies at U.S. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Hearing

Washington, DC (PRWEB) May 07, 2013

The National Quality Forum (NQF) today testifies before the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, at a 10:00am hearing focused on options for repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and reforming the Medicare physician payment system to reward quality and value.

Frank G. Opelka, MD, FACS, will offer remarks on behalf of NQF. Dr. Opelka serves as Vice Chair of NQF’s Consensus Standards Approval Committee—tasked with overseeing measure evaluation and endorsement—and is a member of the NQF-convened Measure Applications Partnership, a public-private partnership that reviews performance measures for potential use in federal public reporting and performance-based payment programs. A trained surgeon, Dr. Opelka’s primary job is as Executive Vice President for Health Care and Medical Education at Louisiana State University as well as Associate Medical Director for the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Opelka will address the importance of quality measurement in building a more patient-focused health care system that improves outcomes and reduces costs. Specifically, his remarks will focus on the following:

  •     Quality Measurement is Key. Quality measurement and quality improvement should be at the center of any physician reform proposal or any effort to improve care and reduce costs in the health care system.
  •     Measures Must Be Rigorous. Quality measures that distinguish differences in performance and are used in high stakes reporting and payment programs must be “high quality” – meaning they have been subject to a rigorous review process using the best scientific and clinical evidence.
  •     Using a Multi-Stakeholder Process is Critical. To improve health care, stakeholders need to agree how to define quality and high performance; measures must also be vetted through a multi-stakeholder process. Providing everyone a seat at the table ensures measures are high-impact and embraced across all sectors—providing the most potential for driving down costs and improving care.
  •     We Must Maintain an Organized, High Standard Process for Reviewing and Endorsing Quality Measures and NQF Should Continue to Play This Role. To reduce redundancy, administrative burden, and to ensure that measures on the market are standardized and performance can be compared and benchmarked, there needs to be one location and set of standards for measure review and endorsement. Fracturing our current quality measure review and endorsement structure—by setting up parallel endorsement processes—will slow down progress in driving health care improvements.

Read Dr. Opelka’s full testimony (

Background on NQF

Founded in 1999, NQF is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with over 440 organizational members. NQF members span the health care spectrum, including physicians, hospitals, businesses, consumer and patient representatives, health plans, certifying bodies and other healthcare stakeholders.

NQF has two distinct but complementary roles focused on enhancing the quality and value of the U.S. health care system:

NQF reviews and endorses quality performance measures. These measures are used by public and private payers to assess how well doctors, hospitals and other providers are doing in offering high-quality care, and are also used by providers to benchmark their performance against peers and national standards. About two-thirds of the measures that the federal government uses in its healthcare programs are NQF endorsed. There is also widespread use of NQF-endorsed measures by hospitals and health plans at the state, regional and local levels.        

In addition to endorsing measures, NQF also convenes diverse, private sector healthcare stakeholders to provide input to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) quality improvement efforts. More specifically, the NQF-convened National Priorities Partnership (NPP) has served as a forum for a diverse group of stakeholders to provide initial and ongoing input to the HHS developed National Quality Strategy (NQS), which is focused on improving care, increasing affordability and building healthier communities. The NQF-convened Measures Application Partnership (MAP) is another diverse stakeholder group that works together to make recommendations on which measures should be used in Federal payment and public reporting programs, including Hospital Value Based Purchasing and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), among others.    


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