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CMS Announces Changes in MACRA Implementation Timeline

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced major changes to the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization (MACRA). Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt outlined how physicians can choose to participate at their own pace in the new quality program and avoid any penalties in the first year of implementation. The blog can be found online here.

Rather than require physicians to participate fully in either the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or an alternative payment model (APM) in 2017, CMS has outlined four options for the MACRA reporting period; choosing any of these options will ensure that practices are not subject to a penalty in 2019. The four options are as follows:

  1. Test the Quality Payment Program by submitting some data after January 1, 2017. This will be sufficient to avoid any penalty in 2019;
  2. Participate for part of the 2017 calendar year;
  3. Participate for the full 2017 calendar year; or
  4. Participate in an advanced APM.

Under options 2 and 3, practices could quality for a bonus payable in 2019; the size of the potential bonus would vary based on the level of participation. Advanced APMs will receive the 5 percent bonus authorized by the statute.

This announcement was made in response to comments the agency received on the proposed rule, requesting a delay in implementation. These changes will provide flexibility and a longer transition period for those practices that need more time to prepare for MACRA’s requirements without being at risk of a penalties. It is important to note that those practices who do not submit any quality data will still be penalized in 2019. More details on this change in implementation will be detailed in the final rule which is expected in October.