Finally, it's here.
On April 27 HHS announced the release(www.hhs.gov) of a much-anticipated proposed rule that will guide implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).
The proposed rule, titled "Medicare Program: Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Model (APM) Incentive Under the Physician Fee Schedule, and Criteria for Physician-Focused Payment Models," has been posted for public review(www.federalregister.gov) prior to publication May 9 in the Federal Register.
For many months now, family physicians across the country have expressed anxiety about how to move forward with aligning their practices to fit new payment models when the necessary particulars had yet to be written.
Release of the rule means the AAFP now can dive into the details of the regulations and fine-tune what has been proposed.
Indeed, Academy experts will spend the next few weeks scouring the 900-plus page proposal, all the while looking to ensure that family physicians across the country not only are treated fairly, but that the rule will help them succeed in new payment models so they can continue to do what they do best -- provide high-quality, compassionate care to their patients.
CMS invites public feedback on the rule until June 27.
Shortly after the HHS announcement, the Academy released a statement from AAFP President Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., of York, Pa.
She said Medicare payment reform was "fundamental" to the task of improving health care quality and outcomes -- and improving the efficiency of care delivery.
"The AAFP believes that MACRA is, by congressional intent and design, a law aimed at transforming our health care delivery system into one that is based on a strong foundation of primary care," said Filer.
She noted that the proposed regulations were intended to mesh with the intent of lawmakers who wrote the law -- an intent Filer described as placing "greater priority on primary care that is comprehensive, continuous, coordinated, connected and a patient's first contact with the health system."
She noted that the law's focus on the patient-centered medical home was no accident and a "direct expression of the congressional desire to see our health care delivery system more aggressively promote, reward and emphasize primary care.
"It is important that CMS, through this regulation, get this right," said Filer. She added that the AAFP looked forward to working with CMS to ensure that the final regulation makes significant progress toward transforming America's health care delivery system.
For its part, HHS called the proposal the "first step" toward modernizing how Medicare pays physicians by tying payment to the cost and quality of care provided to patients.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell noted in the press release there was much work to be done but promised that HHS was "committed to implementing this important legislation and creating a health care system that works better for doctors, patients and taxpayers alike."
Want a sampling of the proposed rule's content?
Related AAFP News Coverage
Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act
AAFP Seizes Momentum, Articulates MACRA Vision for Family Medicine