CMS Updates Proposed Rule for MACRA; Eases Burden for Some Physicians

CMS Updates Proposed Rule for MACRA; Eases Burden for Some Physicians

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has unveiled a 1,058-page proposed rule updating the Medicare physician payment system implemented under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 with changes to make it easier for small independent and rural practices to participate.

The proposed rule would make changes in the second year of the Quality Payment Program as required by MACRA. According to a statement from CMS, the goal is to simplify the program, specifically for small, independent and rural practices, while ensuring fiscal sustainability and high-quality care within Medicare.

“We’ve heard the concerns that too many quality programs, technology requirements, and measures get between the doctor and the patient,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “That’s why we’re taking a hard look at reducing burdens. By proposing this rule, we aim to improve Medicare by helping doctors and clinicians concentrate on caring for their patients rather than filling out paperwork. CMS will continue to listen and take actionable steps towards alleviating burdens and improving health outcomes for all Americans that we serve.”

The proposal will allow for the exemption of small providers participating in the program by increasing the low-volume threshold to $90,000 or less in Medicare Part B charges or 200 or less Medicare patients annually. The original threshold was $30,000 in Medicare Part B charges or 100 Medicare patients. The agency believes the move will exclude about 134,000 clinicians from MIPS.

American Medical Association President David Barbe released a statement commending the CMS for hearing the concerns of practicing physicians. “Not all physicians and their practices were ready to make the leap, and many faced daunting challenges. This flexible approach will give physicians more options to participate in MACRA and takes into consideration the diversity of medical practices throughout the country,” he wrote.

The news may come as a relief for some clinicians. In March, Healthcare Informatics found 43 percent of more than 2,000 providers stated they needed help with MACRA preparation while 30 percent said that are not prepared at all. However, after exclusions, CMS estimates 36 percent of clinicians will be eligible for participation in 2018.

The American Academy of Family Physicians stated the regulation would help improve family physicians’ ability to participate in payment reforms successfully.

“We’re pleased that, consistent with the Department of Health and Human Services’ directive, CMS has taken steps to reduce administrative and regulatory burden,” John Meigs Jr., M.D., president of AAFP, said in the statement. “We’re equally pleased that CMS agreed with the AAFP recommendations on medical homes. For example, the financial risk borne by medical homes rolls out more slowly, providing more time for family physicians to move toward full participation in the Advanced Payment Model track. Equally important are the significant steps to reduce risk for practices of all sizes in the MIPS program.”


New Quality Payment Program Resources Available

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services revamped the look of the Quality Payment Program website and posted new resources to help you successfully participate in your first year of the Quality Payment Program. READ MORE

Posted in: CMS, MACRA

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