AAFP: CMS Final Rule Implementing MACRA Addresses Many Family Medicine Suggestions

Friday, Oct. 14, 2016

Statement attributable to:
John Meigs, Jr., MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians is pleased the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released the final rule implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The final rule addresses many of the concerns family physicians have expressed about the complexity of the program, the pace of implementation, new administrative burdens and the usability of technology. The rule also accommodates physicians by providing technical assistance that will be valuable as they work to fully participate in the Quality Payment program and its two pathways -- the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System or the Alternative Payment Models.

“In particular, we are pleased that practices with low volumes of Medicare Part B patients are excluded in the first year and that family physicians will be able to move toward full participation without suffering penalties that will slow their progress.

“The AAFP made several suggestions in response to the proposed rule, and we’ll closely analyze the final regulation to identify CMS action on those comments. However, our initial review indicates CMS has addressed many of our comments, especially in regards to support for small practices.

“Several provisions will smooth the way for family physicians to participate in the MIPS or APMs. We’re particularly pleased the rule implements and provides additional clarification regarding the ‘pick your pace’ program that allows practices to choose their reporting timeline for participating in the MACRA Quality Payment Program. This will be of particular value to small and solo medical practices. We welcome several other flexibilities that will help low-volume practices, such as exemptions from certain penalties and allowances for patient-centered medical homes.

“We are also encouraged by the $20 million in funding over the next five years to pay for training and education for Medicare providers. This uniquely tailored assistance will help family physicians in individual or small group practices -- as well as those working in underserved areas -- identify appropriate technologies and quality measures, and help them evaluate their options for joining an Advanced APM. This support will allow physicians to focus on what they do best: taking care of patients.

“We now can finalize preparing our members for fully participating in payment models of the future. The AAFP looks forward to continuing to work with CMS in ensuring physicians can successfully transform their practices under the new payment system.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Meigs, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 6252, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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