Time Is Running Out

Take Action on MIPS by Dec. 31 to Avoid Medicare Penalty

December 15, 2017 11:08 am Sheri Porter

Physicians who haven't taken any action to participate in the 2017 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) are quickly running out of time to do so.  

[clock with words time is running out]

Dec. 31 is the last day physicians can collect MIPS data for 2017, even though that data can be reported to CMS until March 31.

It takes as little as submitting just one quality measure -- one time -- to avoid a 4 percent negative payment adjustment to Medicare Part B claims in 2019.

Amy Mullins, M.D., the AAFP's medical director for quality improvement, encourages her family physician colleagues to grab the opportunity before it's too late.

"There's absolutely no reason for a family physician to be assessed a negative payment adjustment in 2019," she told AAFP News.

In fact, Mullins feels very strongly that physicians should aim higher than just trying to avoid a penalty; she suggests they build their MIPS score as high as possible.

"Family physicians are uniquely positioned to do well in MIPS. We've been doing quality reporting, working in electronic health records, and engaging in improvement activities related to the medical home for years. Now we just need to report what we've been doing and get credit for it."

Mullins has been traversing the country on behalf of the AAFP talking to family physicians about the details of the Quality Payment Program and how to successfully participate in MIPS.

During her travels, she tells her colleagues that the easiest way for FPs to increase their MIPS score is to find an improvement activity they're already doing in their clinics and simply attest to it.

"I guarantee every family physician can find enough activities already in progress that they can attest to get full credit for the MIPS improvement activities category," Mullins said.

She pointed out that if a practice is recognized as a patient-centered medical home, it automatically qualifies for 100 percent of the available 15 points in the improvement activities category.

"There is no reason not to take advantage of that," said Mullins. "Every family physician can attest to an existing activity and say with confidence, 'Yes, I've done this for 90 days in my practice.'"

Take a little time this week to finish out 2017 on a high note. You'll be glad you did when 2019 Medicare payments start rolling in.

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