The federal government's first step in implementing certain provisions of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) was detailed in an April 2016 announcement.
Just nine days after that bulletin, the AAFP arranged a town hall meeting for its members with two high-ranking CMS officials to discuss the law that will greatly influence how physicians are paid. Comments provided by CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt via conference call are detailed here.
While the HHS window to receive feedback on the proposal remains open through June 27, 2016, the AMA has created an extensive set of online resources to support physician preparations for a post-MACRA Medicare. The resources include a guide to physician-focused payment models, key points of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and five things providers can do now to prepare for the legislation, among other resources, according to a May 2016 press release.
“The core policy elements in MACRA are surfacing in other public and private insurance programs, so understanding these policies will be essential for most physician practices,” said AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD.
The AMA's MACRA support tools were announced in conjunction with the release of its new interactive module on practicing value-based care authored by Grace Terrell, MD, an internal medicine physician and president of Cornerstone Health Care, who shares the proven steps her clinic used to focus on patients at the center of care.
The value-based care module is the latest in the AMA’s STEPS Forward™ collection of physician-developed practice improvement strategies.
Also readying its membership for MACRA is the AAFP, which last week launched a comprehensive member communication and education effort related to the proposed legislation. The AAFP's MACRA Ready site is a one-stop shop filled with resources family physicians can use right now such as the following:
- A timeline of important MACRA dates;
- A list of acronyms to help digest the alphabet soup associated with MACRA's complicated regulations;
- A "MACRA in a Minute" 60-second overview video;
- A deep-dive review of what value-based payment means to family physicians;
and much more.
In announcing the MACRA tools, AAFP President Wanda Filer, MD, MB, told family physicians that the academy's MACRA communication plan "is designed to help simplify the transition and provide the guidance that you will need to realize the benefits of MACRA and value-based payments."
A recent AAFP survey indicated that some 40 percent of family physicians already were involved in some kind of value-based payment system, she noted.
As she related the history of MACRA, Dr. Filer reminded members that the legislation not only repealed the sustainable growth rate (SGR) but also established an annual positive or flat-fee payment for the next 10 years as well as a two-track program (the MIPS, and Alternative Payment Models, referred to as APMs) for calculating Medicare payments beginning in 2019.