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CMS Reveals 2017 Program Allowing MACRA Participation Flexibility

September 09, 2016

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently revealed the launch of their 2017 participation options for the Quality Payment Program, which will allow physicians to pick their pace of participation in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), from a pool of four options, according to a CMS Blog post.

According to the post, more than 10,000 inidviduals enroll for Medicare, daily.

“Facing that demand, it is essential that Medicare continues to support physicians in delivering high-quality patient care,” Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS said in the blog post. “This includes increasing its focus on patient outcomes and reducing the obstacles that make it harder for physicians to practice good care.”

A previous proposal, released by CMS in April, was discussed with physicians and other clinicians, nationwide. Collectively, the clinician community agreed that they wanted a system that works for the patients, along with technology that can help with care and reporting. CMS intends to address patient care in a final rule set to be released by November 1, 2016.

The launch of the Quality Payment Program will give physicians four options, called: test the Quality Payment Program, participate for part of the calendar year, participate for the full calendar year, and, participate in an Advanced Alternative Payment Model in 2017.


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Physicians who choose to submit data to the Quality Payment Program under the “test the Quality Payment Program,” option must submit at least some data after the launch of the program to avoid a negative payment adjustment. This option is designed to ensure that the system is working and that physicians are prepared for broader participation in the following years.

Physicians who select the full calendar year, participation will begin their payments immediately on January 1, 2017. However, if physicians opt to participate for only part of the calendar year, then their performance period could begin later than January 1, 2017.

The final option that CMS revealed allows participants to join in the Quality Payment Program by opting into an Advanced Alternative Payment Model similar to Medicare Shared Savings Track 2 or 3 in 2017. In order to qualify for a 5% incentive payment in 2019, physicians must either obtain enough Medicare payments or enough Medicare patients through the Advanced Alternative Payment Model in 2017.

CMS plans to provide necessary resources for 2017 participants.

“We look forward to releasing the final details about the program this fall,” Mr Slavitt concluded. “Most importantly, we look forward to further engagement with physicians and other clinicians toward our shared goal of the highest quality of care and best outcomes for patients.” —Julie Gould



Slavitt A. Plans for the Quality Payment Program in 2017: Pick Your Pace [blog post]. Published September 8, 2016. Accessed September 9, 2016. 


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