The American Medical Association (AMA) is reminding physicians that the Medicare reimbursement system has changed, and, if they have not done so already, they have until December 31, 2017, to take a few simple steps to avoid a Medicare payment penalty in 2019.
The changes are part of the government's implementation of MACRA, the new Medicare law that will affect physicians and practices of all sizes. 2017 is the first year of reporting under MACRA's Quality Payment Program.
For those who were not prepared for full participation this year, reporting quality information on just one patient and one measure in 2017 will allow physicians to avoid a Medicare payment penalty in 2019. A full MACRA resource center is available on the AMA's website, and to promote awareness of this option, the AMA launched the "one patient, one measure, no penalty" campaign, which offers a step-by-step guide to completing the process. The AMA has also produced a MACRA podcast series on ReachMD, including an episode with tips for small practices.
With just a small investment of time, physicians can select a quality measure to report on that makes sense for their practice based on their patient population or the procedures performed most frequently. Additionally, practices with 15 or fewer clinicians can access support for selecting and reporting on appropriate measures to satisfy requirements under MIPS. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offers free, customized technical assistance through the Small, Underserved and Rural Support initiative.
"The AMA is working to make sure every physician--in every practice setting and every specialty--is prepared to make the successful transition to the new Medicare law. All the tools physicians need are available on the AMA website, and, with time quickly ticking down, we urge all physicians who haven't done so already to take a few simple steps that will help them avoid a penalty," said AMA President David O. Barbe, MD.
Medicare's new Quality Payment Program (QPP) remains a work in progress, but the AMA continues to work closely with CMS to ensure that the regulations implementing the program are less onerous than under prior law, contain lower penalties, provide an opportunity for upside incentive, and include a workable transition for physicians. CMS is listening to physicians' suggestions for improvement, and the program that is taking shape appears to be one that will be less burdensome for doctors. Legacy programs that have long burdened small practices have gone away.
Regardless of size, specialty or level of preparedness, medical practices are concerned that the implementation of QPP would be burdensome and time consuming, according to a survey conducted by the AMA and the KPMG consulting firm that was released earlier this year.
While physicians may be ready to take only a small step for the 2017 performance year by reporting on one measure for one patient, learning now to report through one measure this year will set you up for being successful next year. For 2018, to successfully report quality measures for the full year means being ready on January 1.
The AMA reminds physicians to prepare for long-term success by keeping the following in mind:
Engage in continuous quality improvement
Optimize your health information technology
Evaluate options for joining an Advanced Alternative Payment Model
Additional information about AMA's work on behalf of physicians to shape MACRA-QPP and help physicians prepare is available on AMA Wire.