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How the MACRA Rule, Baby Boomers Impact Medicare Payment

The CMS Acting Administrator also stressed how MACRA can help bring a new platform for Medicare payment that offers greater flexibility and simplicity.

By Vera Gruessner

Last month, Andrew Slavitt, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), spoke at the American Medical Association 2016 Annual Meeting about new strategies to pay for Medicare and unlock opportunities for greater collaboration between doctors and regulators, according to The CMS Blog. Medicare payment was a major talking point at this conference.

Value-Based Care Reimbursement

Some of the key points that Slavitt made dealt with ensuring that CMS and the Medicare program covers the costs of healthcare services that work. That means high quality services that improve outcomes and prevent worsening medical conditions. This strategy would bring the country a healthier, more robust population.

Additionally, another important point Slavitt mentioned is the need to reduce paperwork and documentation among physician practices. As for technology, he urged the need to make it into a useful tool instead of an entire industry. This means removing the barrier that exists between federal regulatory requirements and direct patient care.

“Our career staff and our regions have been tasked with connecting us closer and closer to where care actually happens,” Slavitt explained. “We began this by reaching out and meeting with over 6,300 stakeholders all across the country before we published the proposed rule in April.”

“Our particular focus on meeting with practicing physicians in their offices, in workshops, in focus groups and in weekly sessions to listen to policy options and to dig into the details of how the concepts in MACRA translate into the realities of a busy practice. Since proposing the rule at the end of April, we’ve held over 135 events centered on physicians and clinicians affected by the Quality Payment Program.”

The CMS Acting Administrator also stressed how MACRA can help bring a new platform for Medicare payment that offers greater flexibility and simplicity between providers and public payers.

A major strain on the federal government right now when it comes to the Medicare program is the aging Baby Boomer population that is becoming qualified to receive Medicare assistance every day. Slavitt declared that there are as many as 10,000 new Medicare beneficiaries hitting the market on a daily basis.

As such, it is imperative to create new strategies to deliver quality care at reduced cost. MACRA offers a value-based payment system that attempts to improve care coordination with reduced spending. It also incentivizes physicians to utilize new quality care improvement programs such as medical homes and others that reward doctors with financial incentives.

Bringing greater focus to patient care and patient satisfaction will be a key goal of the Medicare program as it continues to invest in new strategies to pay for healthcare among its Medicare beneficiaries. Slavitt also clarified how the new MACRA rule will bring three disparate programs under one umbrella. These programs are meaningful use requirements, physician quality reporting, and the Value Modifier.

“MACRA sunsets three disjointed programs. If you participate in the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Value Modifier, and the Meaningful Use program, your life just got simpler as they are replaced with a single, aligned Quality Payment Program, which will reduce reporting requirements, eliminate duplication, and reduce the number of measures. For those who participate in Alternative Payment Models, those requirements are reduced further or eliminated,” Slavitt spoke in front of the American Medical Association last month.

Slavitt outlined the steps CMS will take to implement the new law and how a major priority is to keep the patient at the forefront of any medical payment reforms and quality improvement initiatives. Healthcare providers should glad to learn that CMS is looking to allow physicians to run their medical practices the way they know best.

The future of the Medicare payment will likely appear differently from the past practices of fee-for-service reimbursement, as the new healthcare landscape is bringing more focus on value-based care and quality improvement in the midst of an aging Baby Boomer population.

“With the growth of Medicare beneficiaries outpacing the growth of working Americans, we need to find ways, like we do in other sectors, to deliver better care at lower costs,” Slavitt stated at the conference.

 

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