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MACRA Accelerates Value-Based Approach to Healthcare

By Christopher Cheney  
   June 26, 2017

Medicare's reimbursement system for physicians is emerging as a major driver of change in the healthcare industry.

The long journey to establish value-based healthcare business models has taken a giant leap forward this year.

The rollout of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which is linking an ever-increasing share of physician payments for outpatient care to service-value rather than service-volume, is a game changer, according to the presenters of a workshop Sunday at the HFMA-ANI conference in Orlando, FL.

"The turning tide is largely driven by MACRA. It has changed healthcare significantly in terms of moving the mindset toward more value-based reimbursement," said Max Reiboldt, CPA, president and CEO of Coker Group, a healthcare consultancy based in Alpharetta, GA.

Survey Snapshot: Exploring Value-Based Readiness

While there is considerable uncertainty over the ultimate fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, MACRA is an example of how value-based healthcare appears destined to advance, he said.

"It has been a long, drawn-out process from March 2010, when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, to today. But regardless of what happens to the ACA or how the ACA changes, the concepts involved in shifting to value-based reimbursement are not going to change. MACRA illustrates the point. No one is talking about repealing MACRA."

Medicare's physician reimbursement model, which launched with performance reporting this year and is slated for full implementation in 2019, is making the shift from volume to value a real business condition in the healthcare industry, Reiboldt said.

"Everybody is now in a value-based reimbursement setting, and the reason for that is MACRA. We are all subject to MACRA."

MACRA Success Strategy: MIPS versus APMs

There are two physician-reimbursement tracks under MACRA:

  • In the near-term, most clinicians will be paid through the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), which features data reporting in four performance categories that drive payment bonus and penalty mechanisms.

  • Clinicians participating in MACRA-approved alternative payment models (APMs) such as Medicare's Next Generation ACO can earn 5% payment bonuses.

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.

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