No Time to Read CMS' Massive MACRA Final Rule?

Read the AAFP's Executive Summary Instead

October 26, 2016 12:15 pm News Staff

When HHS released CMS' final rule(qpp.cms.gov) addressing implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) on Oct. 14, family physicians across the country became slightly less anxious about their future.

[Executive Summary label on folder]

At least they would have some guidance as to what was expected of them during the nation's transition to value-based payment models.

But the long and complicated final rule was a roadblock to many, including this family physician who posted a comment after the AAFP News story about the final rule was published online. She began by saying, "I was going to print off and read the final rule for MACRA but was daunted by the 2,200+ page length of the document."

Well, now busy family physicians can read an executive summary(4 page PDF) created by AAFP experts who have read the rule and pulled out the sections most relevant to family medicine.

The authors of the summary condensed the really important details into five pages.

Summary Highlights

Some of the highlights of the summary include these need-to-know informational nuggets:

  • CMS' inclusion of a "pick-your-pace" policy gives physicians choices as to how fast they proceed and includes an optional 90-day reporting period in 2017.
  • If a practice participates in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) for any period of time in 2017, no penalty will be assessed in 2019.
  • All physicians who participate in Medicare Part B will receive a positive 0.5 percent payment update for services provided in 2017.
  • Physicians should plan to participate in 2017 -- even if only by reporting on one measure or improvement activity; failure to do so will result in a 4 percent negative adjustment in 2019 Medicare Part B payments.

The first three items in the list above were the direct result of the AAFP's continual communication with CMS to ensure that the final rule would support family physicians' role in the nation's health care system.

For more examples of AAFP advocacy wins associated with this rule, review a side-by-side comparison(4 page PDF) of specific AAFP positions on topics in the proposed rule and language in the final rule that addresses those concerns.

Other topics covered in the executive summary include details about

  • MIPS and advanced alternative payment models (AAPMs),
  • the four specific pick-your-pace options,
  • performance feedback, and
  • options for small and rural practices.

The AAFP devoted the last page of the summary to outlining two distinct definitions for medical homes created by CMS specifically for MACRA. Learn the differences between the MIPS certified medical home and the AAPM medical home.

Understanding Your Pathway

After physicians digest the information in the summary, their next stop should be a new resource just made available as part of the AAFP's "Making Sense of MACRA" series that gives family physicians information about MACRA implementation in small bites.

This latest piece, "Understanding Your Pathway," is presented in an easy-to-understand game board fashion and displays the various paths available to physicians in their MACRA journey.

The entire three-page supplement is also available for download as a PDF.(3 page PDF)

Lastly, for physicians who'd like to master the alphabet soup of MACRA acronyms, review a complete list of "MACRAnyms" created by the AAFP. Consider printing and posting it in the office for quick access by all practice members.

Watch for more MACRA news later this fall, after the AAFP finalizes its comment letter to HHS and shares with the agency input about additional changes that would make the rule more family physician-friendly and give Academy members the tools they need to be MACRA-ready.

Related AAFP News Coverage
MACRA: The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act

More From AAFP
In the Trenches blog: "MACRA 101: What You Need to Know"
(10/25/2016)

MACRA Ready: The Shift to Value-Based Payment

Additional Resource
Quality payment Program(qpp.cms.gov)