From Bundled Payment Reform to MACRA: Pick Your Poison

MACRA continues to be a subject that perplexes providers even as the program evolves.

It has been recently confirmed that the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) bundled payment has been cut from 67 to 34 percent in the program, and the carding rehabilitation incentive with bundled payments has been cancelled. The new political leadership in Washington, D.C. continues to question the former initiatives and their value. Without question, the fee-for-service model will be replaced, but who can keep up with the constant changes and mandates?

It has been noted that 80 percent of providers plan to report on the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) programs, but 75 percent have indicated that they still do not understand the rules, which are outlined in hundreds of pages. Another challenge is that up until now, there were no exclusions if you were a one-person practice; the rules were the same as if you were an 1,800-provider practice. Recent announcements by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have acknowledged this challenge, and the agency is adjusting the requirements.

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So what is the future for MACRA, MIPS, and Alternative Payment Models (APMs)? Is it any different? Like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) concerns in political circles, reformation is a concern, but it is a less punitive model being proposed?

Is it less burdensome so far? The answer is no.

As with bundled payments, it is reported that it costs three times as much to administer the new program than the traditional fee-for-service reimbursement program. Clinically speaking, information technology and its administration is overwhelming, and by no means offset fully by the financial rewards.

More than 70 percent of providers have said that MACRA does not support their “quality program,” and here is the reason why: it is not specific to specialty of care, the cost to adopt the program is significant, the rules are unclear, and there is no strong value proposition of the change to reimbursement at this time. As CMS begins to migrate to the new administration programs, it continues to adjust the MACRA requirements.

As this healthcare financial and clinical journey goes on, keep watch on the changes to the MACRA reporting requirements, the association with ACOs, and how providers embrace the changes.

Although MACRA has great benefits as compared with former programs, it continues to present great challenges.

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Photo courtesy of: ICD10 Monitor

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