NCQA calls on feds to make MACRA reporting easier

Seema Verma speaking at press conference
The NCQA has proposed changes to a proposed rule on MACRA in a letter to CMS' Seema Verma. (whitehouse.gov)

The National Committee for Quality Assurance wants to see the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services make quality reporting easier for patient-centered medical homes.

In a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, the accreditor suggested a change in the agency’s proposed rule for MACRA to further reduce the quality reporting burden on clinicians. Currently NCQA- recognized patient-centered medical homes and patient-centered specialty practices receive what’s called auto-credit for improvement activities—one of four different categories of reporting under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) in MACRA.

The NCQA wants to see the same kind of auto-credit in the advancing care information category, which measures how clinicians use health information technology to improve patient care, what was formerly known as Meaningful Use.

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The proposal would mean clinicians wouldn’t have to do any extra work to get full credit in that category, Joe Castiglione, a member of the NCQA’s public policy team, wrote in a blog post.

“We don’t think clinicians should have to do the same work twice,” Castiglione said. “This would be a truly meaningful way to reduce burden on clinicians who want to participate in MIPS and begin the transition to value-based payment.”

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In the letter, the NCQA offered other comments on the proposed MACRA rule, including its endorsement of the plan to add virtual groups to the Medicare payment program. “This is a key step toward helping small practices advance toward accountable, team-based, patient-centered care models,” the organization wrote, urging CMS to provide bonus points as incentive for clinicians to join virtual groups and encourage, rather than prohibit, low-volume clinicians’ participation.

Overall, the 1,058-page proposed rule (PDF) released in June provides a regulatory reprieve for physicians who participate in MACRA. CMS is taking comments until Aug. 18 on the proposed rule before the agency finalizes the program for 2018.