Meaningful Use: A Comprehensive Guide – Part IV: MACRA

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MACRA and meaningful useGiven the time sensitive nature of the MACRA program, this article is out dated. Please refer to Bridge’s MACRA 101 article for more current explanation of the MACRA program and how it relates to a patient portal.

As we head into the second half of 2016, it is difficult to talk about Meaningful Use without mentioning the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), the new healthcare legislation that is shaping up to begin in January 2017. There has been a lot of buzz that Meaningful Use is ending with the approval of this new legislation, but that is not exactly the case. While the words “meaningful use” may start to fade out of our everyday lexicon, don’t be fooled into thinking that Meaningful Use is going away. Under MACRA, it’s basically just been repackaged and tied up with a bow, as a piece of this larger incentive program.

With MACRA, CMS combined a handful of existing incentive programs, including Meaningful Use, to create two more comprehensive, programs:

  1. Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)  – for eligible providers
  2. Advanced Alternative Payment Model – for alternative payment models such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)

Most providers currently participating in Meaningful Use will be eligible for the MIPS program. Keep in mind that MACRA does not cover hospitals or Medicaid participants. There is no doubt that their time will come soon, though, given that CMS is already meeting with hospitals to discuss changes and will soon meet with Medicaid stakeholders.

So, what’s happening to Meaningful Use measures? The Stage 3 Meaningful Use measures have been repackaged into one of the four parts of MIPS, the “Advancing Care Information” (ACI) section. Providers will report numerators and denominators for measures in the ACI category, similar to current Meaningful Use reporting. It is important to note, though, that a provider doesn’t need to comply with ACI to receive an incentive payment. The scoring system for the MIPS Program is cumulative and a provider (or group) could do well in other categories and still receive an incentive payment. The ACI category does count towards 25% of the MIPS program, however, so we recommend paying attention to it.

What’s the timeline for all of these changes? Payment adjustments for MIPS will begin in 2019 based on reporting from 2017.  Reporting for the current Meaningful Use program will end on Dec. 31, 2016, with the last payment adjustments paid in 2018.

The final rules for MACRA are slated to be published by Nov. 1, 2016 after the comment period is complete, so that providers are able to start reporting Jan. 1, 2017. There is no proposed end date for the MACRA program.

Don’t forget that Meaningful Use reporting does not end until the end of 2016.

View the complete Meaningful Use series here:

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