Suggestions to improve MACRA and MIPs

Administrative burdens that detract from a provider’s ability to focus on patient care are at the heart of challenges independent physicians have with the Quality Payment Plan (QPP) that is part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Providers participating in either of the two QPP payment tracks, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (Advanced APMs), have raised questions and made suggestions for improvement.

The main theme at a hearing held in July 2018 on how to improve Medicare was to reduce the administrative burdens on providers. Other concerns focused on the quality measures involved in MIPS, particularly whether they were relevant across the board. Healthcare providers participating in the hearing suggested that the reporting process be simplified and that it incorporate more meaningful measures.

Frank Opelka, MD, FACS, ACS’ Medical Director of Quality and Health Policy, noted that for quality reporting that did not impose an administrative burden to physicians, “CMS needs measures that accurately and meaningfully target the episode of care being assessed, providing useful information to physicians and patients. This is not currently the case.”

In addition, as reported by Revcycle Intelligence, “The American Medical Association’s (AMA) immediate past president David O. Barbe, MD, MHA, also provided a list of suggestions for decreasing administrative burden in the Quality Payment Program. His recommendations included:

  • Reducing the number of measures a physician must report for the MIPS Quality performance category
  • Permitting providers to report for a minimum of 90 days in all MIPS performance categories
  • Expanding facility-based definition to include providers in all settings, such as post-acute care and long-term care facilities.”

Physicians are urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to make improvements to MIPS to encourage more healthcare providers to participate. Those who are currently participating do not feel they are being rewarded adequately for meeting the quality measure requirements. Smaller, independent physicians should be assisted with participating, perhaps with the option of an alternative MIPS pathway.