Even without potential changes to the Medicare program, MACRA poses a significant challenge for any clinician trying to determine the best strategy to maximize Medicare reimbursement – there are hundreds of pages of guidance in the proposed and final regulations to review and understand. But, at this point, clinicians attempting to assess MACRA must also deal with uncertainty about changes to the Medicare program. A significant source of uncertainty is the Trump administration’s stated intent to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“ACA” and also known as Obamacare), which is being implemented by current legislative efforts. Uncertainty about the ACA should be considered in developing a strategy to comply with MACRA. Continue Reading Managing MACRA – Part VII: What happens to MACRA if the Affordable Care Act is repealed?
Specialists are generally subject to the MACRA merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) in the same manner as primary care clinicians but are treated differently under MACRA in two situations:
- Certain specialists may qualify as “non-patient-facing” (for example, pathologists or radiologists that do generally not see patients) and have reduced MIPS reporting obligations; and
- A specialist who participates in more than one alternative payment model (APM) will receive the most favorable APM treatment of the APMs in which the specialist participates (for example, if the specialist participates in two Track 1 ACOs, the specialist will get the higher of the MIPS scores for those ACOs).
This is the second article in our series on the effect of a “slow repeal” of the ACA, which began January 3, 2017, when Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi introduced a budget resolution with instructions to the relevant Senate and House committees to develop a plan to repeal the ACA. The four committees that control healthcare policy have until January 27, 2017, to draft reconciliation bills, which will address the important details, likely including how long it will take to replace the ACA, and which parts of the ACA will be repealed through a budget reconciliation process. On January 4, 2017, the Senate promptly voted (51-48) to begin debate on the procedures to repeal the ACA. Continue Reading Slow Repeal of the ACA and Its Effect on Physicians
As of January 2016, there were 433 Medicare Shared Savings Program (MMSP) Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) with almost 7.7 million assigned beneficiaries and more than 14,000 participants (a participant may be a group or an individual). Most of these ACOs are one-sided model ACOs that may generate shared savings and do not involve shared losses (Track 1 ACOs).
Importantly, Track 1 ACOs are not considered advanced alternative payment models (APMs) for purposes of MACRA. As a result, a clinician participating in a Track 1 ACO is subject to the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) just like a clinician that is not in an ACO (a participant in an advanced APM is not subject to MIPS). Continue Reading Managing MACRA – Part V: What do I have to do if I’m in an ACO?
Under MACRA, the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) automatically applies to eligible clinicians (generally a physician or mid-level – see our previous blog post for details) and most clinicians who treat Medicare patients are expected to be included in MIPS. As a result, one of the most common questions about MACRA is when it starts. CMS’s final MACRA rule confirms that implementation begins Jan. 1, 2017. Continue Reading Managing MACRA – Part IV: When does it begin?
Under MACRA, the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) automatically applies to an eligible clinician (generally a physician or mid-level – see our previous blog post for details) except in certain circumstances. One of the circumstances in which an eligible clinician is excluded from MIPS is when the clinician participates in an advanced alternative payment model (APM) that meets certain operational, risk and patient/payment volume requirements. Notably, a participant in a qualifying advanced APM receives a 5 percent annual bonus payment from 2019-2024. A participant in an advanced APM who does not meet the patient/payment threshold requirements may still be exempt from MIPS adjustments (although such a partial qualifying advanced APM participant may choose to participate in MIPS) but will not receive the advanced APM bonus. Continue Reading Managing MACRA – Part III: What is an APM?
MACRA is making big changes to Medicare clinician reimbursement, so which clinicians are affected?
Under MACRA, the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) automatically applies to an eligible clinician except in certain circumstances. A MIPS Eligible Clinician (defined at 42 C.F.R. §414.1305) is a:
- physician, including: (1) a doctor of medicine or osteopathy; (2) a doctor of dental surgery or of dental medicine; (3) a doctor of podiatric medicine; (4) a doctor of optometry; and (5) a chiropractor;
- physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, and clinical nurse specialist;
- certified registered nurse anesthetist; or
- group that includes at least one of the clinicians above.
MACRA is the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. MACRA ends the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that has been in place since 1997 (and was the source of decades of legislative fixes to prevent Medicare reimbursement cuts under the SGR). Continue Reading Managing MACRA – Part I: What is MACRA?
Recent remarks made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt at a healthcare conference indicated that CMS will be ending the “meaningful use” electronic health record (“EHR”) Incentive Program in 2016, five years ahead of its original final end date of 2021. Acting Administrator Slavitt did not elaborate on the specifics of what will replace meaningful use, but stated it would likely be tied to the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (“MACRA”) and would include various streamlined quality reporting programs. MACRA emphasizes a new Merit-Based Incident Payment System and alternative payment models, and according to Acting Administrator Slavitt, this new law warrants a new streamlined regulatory approach to EHR as well. Continue Reading CMS to rewrite the rules of EHR meaningful use