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Slavitt: CMS 'Open' to Delayed MACRA Rollout

By HealthLeaders Media News  
   July 14, 2016

The CMS chief tells the Senate Finance Committee that 'multiple approaches' are being considered to ensure a smooth launch of the reporting period for the sweeping physician payment reforms put forward in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said Wednesday that the federal government could delay the Jan. 1, 2017 start of the reporting period for physician payment reforms put forward under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.

"We need to launch this program so that it begins on the right foot. That means that every physician in the country needs to feel like they are set up for success," Slavitt told Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, (R-UT). 

Hatch opened a question-and-answer session with Slavitt by relaying the concerns of payers and providers that "they won't have enough time to prepare to effectively participate in the new MACRA incentive payment program when it starts on Jan. 1, 2017."

Related: MACRA Comment Period Ends With Burst of Feedback

"Assuming that CMS releases its final incentive program rules around Nov. 1, physicians are only going to have about two months before the program goes live," Hatch said.

"Considering that the MACRA law does give CMS flexibility as to the start of the physician reporting period, what options are CMS considering to ensure that this program gets started on the right foot?"

Slavitt acknowledged that the Jan. 1 startup date for the 856-page proposed rule "has been a significant source of feedback" for CMS.

"We remain open to multiple approaches," he said. "Some of the things that are on the table that we are considering include alternate start dates, looking at whether shorter periods could be used, and finding other ways that physicians could get experience with the program before the impact of it really hits them."

Related: Healthcare Providers Push for MACRA Delay

Representatives of the American Medical Association, Trinity Health, and Blue Cross Blue Shield pressed for a postponement to the proposed MACRA rule at a panel Monday hosted by the Alliance for Health Reform, and sponsored by the AMA and the BCBS Association, MedPage Today reported this week.

The MACRA reporting period is slated to begin in January 2017, with payments adjustments based on those metrics to begin in January 2019. The AMA has recommended pushing back the rollout to July 2017.

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