AAFP to provide resources to get physicians ready for new MACRA payment system

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The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is stepping up to the plate to help prepare family physicians for changes in the Medicare payment system that are on the way with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), according to AAFP News.

The physicians group plans to create resources and learning sessions to help family physicians transition to new payment systems under MACRA that will take the place of the Medicare sustainable growth rate formula, according to the AAFP announcement.

While Congress passed MACRA almost a year ago, physicians are waiting for a proposed rule to be released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that will spell out the rules and regulations in MACRA, leaving more questions than answers right now, according to Amy Mullins, M.D., AAFP's medical director for quality improvement.

"Family physicians want to know the answers to questions for which we have no answers yet," Mullins told AAFP News. "They want to know what certified patient-centered medical home means, what nominal risk means, and what the low-volume threshold will be. The AAFP wants to know, too. Family physicians are asking the right questions; we just don't have answers for them until the proposed rule is released later this spring."

MACRA will create new payment models as it marks the beginning of the end for existing fee-for-service payment, models that will value the training, skill level and time it takes to care for patients in family medicine practices, the group said. Two specific payment tracks that MACRA creates for physician payment are the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Model (APM).

Physicians are at the start of a long learning process when it comes to MACRA, Mullins said. She expects many family physicians will begin the transition with the MIPS program before joining an APM. AAFP offered four tips for family physicians to prepare their practice for the transition:

  • Start reporting with the Physician Quality Reporting System
  • If that is not an option, at least understand how to report quality measures
  • Review your practice's Quality Resource and Use Reports as they will tell you where you stand in terms of your resource use, one of four categories that will determine future payments in the MIPS system
  • Evaluate your practice in terms of clinical practice improvement activities, including access to care, patient engagement and care coordination, which will be measured under MACRA

Mullins said physicians should begin to prepare for the transition because she does not think the process will be delayed or tabled as some doctors may hope.

The American Hospital Association has also launched an online tool to help physician leaders prepare for the coming changes to the Medicare physician payment systems, as FiercePracticeManagement previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the AAFP announcement