In late February 2020, leaders and staff from CMS hosted their annual Quality Conference with attendees from hospitals, physician associations, payers, patient advocates, and other stakeholders. The excitement from that meeting in Baltimore was based on CMS rolling out its four new quality strategy pillars – establishing clear government standards and quality measures, strengthening its oversight and standards for accreditation organizations, promoting consumer choice, and modernizing CMS via internal quality improvement methods. CMS also introduced its “Meaningful Measures 2.0” initiative to overflow crowds. These initiatives would be used, CMS intended, to influence the direction of the Quality Payment Program (QPP) this year.

Among the speakers on that first day, only Admiral Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke of COVID-19 and the potential harm the virus might have on...

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