The Affordable Care Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a national strategy to improve the delivery of health care services, patient outcomes and general population health. The first national strategy document must be submitted to Congress by January 1, 2011. This document will also be available to the public on a federal health care quality website to be developed.
The Secretary has been appropriated $20 million each year between 2010 and 2014 to support a body to gather stakeholder input and to use quality measures to report performance across many sectors of health care. Public comment will be accepted throughout the implementation process. Currently the non-profit National Quality Forum (NQF) is responsible for endorsing quality measures and is viewed as a potential recipient of this funding.
Beginning in 2011, the Secretary must publish a list of quality measures that Health and Human Services is considering. This list must be updated and released annually by December 1st.
Together with CMS, the HHS Secretary will also identify gaps where no quality measures currently exist and support the development and expansion of measures through grants and other contracts. $75 million has been authorized for each year from 2010 through 2014 for measure development.
It is imperative for the physician community to have a role in developing and implementing quality measurement policies and procedures in order to maintain a strong infrastructure for meaningful quality improvement.