New rule brings flexibility, institutes two payment tracks, and makes 2017 a transition year. 

CMS delivers MACRA final rule for Quality Payment Program

By Henry Powderly
09:53 AM
CMS MACRA final rule

CMS posted the final version of its physician Quality Payment Program under MACRA on Friday.

The agency said it said adds flexibility to the program to overhaul how physicians are paid under Medicare.

The rule, which since its proposal in April garnered more than 4,000 public comments, cements the two payment tracks already proposed. First, physicians can participate in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System track, which based payment of clinic performance, practice improvement, reporting and technology use. However, the final rule makes official the "pick your pace provision" that allows providers a slower entry into the model if they are not quite prepared to handle all aspect of the program. To do that, CMS is offering physicians a flexible performance period at the beginning.

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The second track is for physicians who participate in alternative payment models like accountable care organizations that will tie their payments to savings generated in those models.

According to CMS, most of the comments it received on the called for more flexibility as well as greater support for small practices. Under the rule, CMS will set aside $20 million a year for five years to help support and train physicians in practices with 15 or fewer doctors.

The agency also said it will make 2017 a transition year, which would mean 2018 payments would not be affected by that year's performance.

At the same time, CMS on Friday unveiled a new website that breaks down many of the components of MACRA in a way it hopes will be easier to understand for clinicians.

Twitter: @HenryPowderly

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