MACRA Bytes: Payment Primer Helps Family Physicians Digest MACRA Implementation Details

MACRA_ArticleOpener.jpg.daijpg.380Sometimes, when an upcoming project seems overwhelmingly complicated, it’s nice to be presented with a simple step-by-step plan in this format: “Do this now, then do that.”

That clearly was the idea behind the latest Family Practice Management supplement created by the AAFP as a resource for family physicians whose brains are bursting with an excess of information from CMS about how the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) is being implemented.

The long-term goal of MACRA is commendable: building a creative new Medicare payment system that focuses on the value of health care provided to patients. And with a huge focus on the value of care — and elements such as team-based care, chronic care management and quality measurement — family physicians stand to benefit.

Unfortunately, too many physicians currently are mired in the muck of endless detail.

Family physicians, do yourselves a huge favor and check out the new supplement available in the July/August Family Practice Management that is available at no charge to all AAFP members and FPM subscribers.

The title says it all: “Making Sense of MACRA: Start Today, Prepare for Tomorrow.” Pull it up online, print it out it, post it in a prominent spot in the office, and then use the supplement as a guide through the next couple of years of Medicare payment reform.

The article starts with a quick overview of current Medicare payment and quality programs — think Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), the valued-based payment modifier (VBPM) initiative, and the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive programs that hatched meaningful use (MU) — and then outlines what happens to those programs in the coming years.

At this point, it’s time to become familiar with a new term — the Quality Payment Program (QPP) — that HHS introduced in April when the massive MACRA implementation proposed rule rolled out. Everything MACRA-related now falls under this giant payment program umbrella.

From there, the article launches into an explanation about how each of the current payment and quality programs will be assimilated into one of two new payment pathways created as part of the QPP — namely, the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

The MACRA preparedness supplement is written in an easy-to-understand format that first explains topic areas related to PQRS, VBPM and MU and then answers two basic questions for each that family physicians across the country are likely struggling with:

What can I do now?

What comes next?

The supplement includes colorful charts and graphics that help make sense of the various programs and that point out those definitely-need-to-know dates and timelines, as well as highlight potentials for additional earnings or penalties.