Andrew Slavitt: MACRA is here to stay

For an industry traditionally scrutinized for low executive pay, one has to wonder what our executives are actually making.

In an uncertain political climate, there’s one thing physician practices can count on: MACRA is here to stay. That's according to Andrew Slavitt, acting administrator of the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In a conference call to educate clinicians about the payment options under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), acting administrator Andrew Slavitt said Tuesday he gets a lot of questions about what difference a Donald Trump presidency and a Republican-controlled congress will mean for Medicare's new value-based reimbursement program.

“There really is no change,” Slavitt told listeners.

What's that? 

For one thing, MACRA passed with broad bipartisan support in Congress. “There is a really strong commitment to the program,” he said. MACRA also replaced the onerous Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which no one wants to go back to.

His advice for physicians and other clinicians: “Plow ahead and [don't] use anything that happened in the election as a distraction,” he said.

The agency will post a recording and transcript of the CMS call in about two weeks on its webpage, and slides for the presentation are available. MACRA will compensate physicians based on quality-based metrics and patient outcomes under two pathways: the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (AAPM).

Given Slavitt’s advice to move ahead with MACRA, there are several steps physicians can take, according to Physicians Practice, including these three:

Recognize that you likely already do some of the activities required by MACRA. You’re probably participating in some of the federal programs, but CMS has changed the names. For instance, the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) program has been replaced by the quality performance category under MIPS.

Assess your current technology, including your electronic health record system, and make sure it is capable of reporting the data and quality measures required, Susanne Madden, founder and CEO of The Verden Group in Nyack, New York, told the publication. 

Focus on learning about improvement activities, since this is a big piece of MACRA. You’ve probably been reporting quality performance though PQRS. Review your reports and see how well you are doing on quality measures compared to national standards, said KrisEmily McCrory, a family-medicine physician based in Schenectady, New York.