CMS’ Kate Goodrich says more changes underway this year to reduce MACRA burden

Responding to continuing complaints that its Medicare physician payment system is too complicated, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services plans to make further changes this year.

One of those changes would ease the reporting burden for hospital-employed physicians under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), CMS’ Chief Medical Officer Kate Goodrich, M.D., said in a  meeting this week, according to the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

CMS plans to align quality measures between hospitals and physicians to make quality reporting easier, according to the article. That will help health systems that use a single electronic health record system to report on behalf of clinicians and hospitals. While the measures will stay basically the same, the agency will implement facility-based scoring so physicians can use their hospital’s quality-measure performance for reporting under MACRA’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), according to the association’s report.

Goodrich said CMS plans to provide an update by the end of March on which physicians will be required to report under MIPS. Physician groups, including the American Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association, criticized CMS for not releasing the 2018 MIPS eligibility information at the start of the year to let doctors know whether they are in or out of the program in 2018.

MIPS has come under criticism lately, including a vote in January by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to recommend Congress abandon the program and replace it with  alternative model called the Voluntary Value Program.

The changes to MACRA are in line with CMS goal to reduce regulatory burden in 2018, as Goodrich said in a listening session last month.

This week Goodrich said CMS is looking at overhauling MACRA as authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. However, the agency will not further delay the implementation of requirements that physicians adopt 2015-edition EHR technology as part of its meaningful use program starting in 2019, Goodrich said.