CMS chief Slavitt: MACRA flexibility is coming

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator outlines four new options that physician groups will have to comply with the law, avoid negative payment adjustments and, in certain cases, even qualify for a modest incentive payment.
By Susan Morse
06:50 PM
CMS Slavitt MACRA flexibility

CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt revealed on Thursday that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is offering clinicians four options to comply and avoid a negative payment adjustment in 2019.

With the Quality Payment Program under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act set to begin on January 1, 2017, Slavitt outlined four new options.

The first, designed to ensure physicians are prepared for broader participation in 2018 and 2019, will enable clinicians to submit data to the Quality Payment Program, including data from after January 1, 2017, and still avoid a negative payment adjustment.

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The second option allows participation for part of the calendar year. Clinicians may choose to submit Quality Payment Program information for a reduced number of days. The first performance period could begin later than January 1, 2017 and the practice could still qualify for a small positive payment adjustment, Slavitt said.

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For example, a practice could submit information for part of the calendar year on how the practice uses technology, and what improvement activities it is undertaking, he said. Clinicians may choose from a list of quality measures and improvement activities available under the Quality Payment Program.

Under the third option, physician groups that submit information for the entire 2017 year on quality measures could qualify for a modest positive payment adjustment.

The fourth option is for those participating in an Advanced Alternative Payment Model in 2017. Instead of reporting quality data and other information, the law allows participation in an Advanced APM such as Medicare Shared Savings Track 2 or 3 in 2017. Those that receive enough of their Medicare payments or see enough of their Medicare patients through an Advanced APM in 2017 would qualify for a 5 percent incentive payment in 2019, Slavitt said.

These changes come in response to received feedback on CMS's April proposal for implementing the Quality Payment Program on how excessive reporting can distract from patient care; how to encourage new programs such as medical homes; and the unique issues facing small and rural non-hospital-based physicians, Slavitt wrote in a blog post.

Slavitt added that the four options will be described more fully in the final rule slated for release on November 1, 2016.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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