On Thursday, September 8, 2016, Andrew Slavitt, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced in a blog posting that the agency heard concerns expressed by the American Medical Association and other physician organizations about the proposed start date for performance reporting by physicians under the new payment systems created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, or MACRA. In a draft regulation issued last April, CMS proposed to require physicians to begin reporting under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or through the advanced alternative payment model (APM) option on January 1, 2017, even though final regulations promulgating MACRA’s sweeping payment system changes would not be issued until the fall. Today, CMS announced that the final MACRA regulation will exempt physicians from any risk of penalties if they choose one of three distinct MIPS reporting options in 2017, in addition to the option of participating in an advanced APM:
Physicians who report in 2017 may be eligible for bonus payments in 2019, depending on which option they choose. Those who opt for full-year reporting will be eligible to receive a “modest positive payment adjustment;” those who choose partial year reporting will be eligible for a“small positive payment adjustment.” Physicians who choose the “test” option will not be subject to any payment adjustments. Qualified participants in advanced APMs will be eligible for 5 percent incentive payments in 2019.
The AMA issued a short statement immediately after the blog posting praising Acting Administrator Slavitt and HHS Secretary Burwell for listening to physicians and providing the flexibility needed for a successful launch of the new MACRA payment systems.