Medicare advisory panel wants to scrap MIPS

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MedPAC says it's time to scrap MIPS, the new payment system for doctors.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission wants to scrap the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

During a Thursday morning meeting, almost all of the members of MedPAC said MIPS, the new Medicare payment system for most physicians, should be replaced after MedPAC staff proposed the development of an alternative payment system to replace MIPs.

MIPS, one of two payment tracks under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), just went into effect this year and replaced the old Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which determined Medicare payment for doctors.

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MedPAC members were in near-unanimous agreement that the complex MIPS program needs to go, according to a MedPage Today report. Members heard from staff that MIPS is too much of a burden for physicians and doesn’t accomplish the goal of rewarding high-value physicians and improving care.

The idea of scraping MIPS goes beyond previous criticism of the payment system by the advisory commission. In its report to Congress last June, MedPAC said the government should redesign MIPS if it wants the payment system to improve outcomes and reduce costs.

But on Thursday, MedPAC staff presented a plan outlining the next steps beyond MIPs. MedPAC, which includes doctors, healthcare executives and policy experts, does not set policy but advises Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Medicare payment issues.

Doctors who want to fully participate in MIPS just faced an Oct. 2 deadline to begin collecting performance data and avoid a payment penalty.

CMS put out a proposed rule in June setting regulations for the second year of the MACRA program, with changes to make it easier for small independent and rural practices to participate.

Some of those proposed requirement changes are because doctors have struggled to prepare for the new MACRA requirements. Physicians are waiting for CMS to finalize the rule.