MACRA-timelineIn a recent Senate Committee on Finance hearing, Acting Administrator of CMS, Andy Slavitt addressed the question: “What options are CMS considering to make sure [MACRA] gets started on the right foot?” The question comes bearing in mind that physicians will only have about two months before the program goes live, if the final rule is in fact announced in November and implemented on January 1, 2017, as planned.

Slavitt seemed to acknowledge the fact that this timeline leaves many (small practices, especially) scrambling to prepare for these major changes in Medicare payment. He disclosed that CMS is open to postponement and shorter reporting periods – as well as considering other ways for clinicians to ease into the program in the short term. A delay of implementation would give clinicians more time to prepare and an adjustment of reporting requirements would ease burdens. He suggested options like obtaining data through automated databases such as a registry, among other methods of easing the initial reporting burdens.

Slavitt also added that CMS needed to reduce documentation so that doctors can spend more time with patients, focusing on care and not measurement, in acknowledgment that more data reporting equals less time devoted to actual patient care. Slavitt has consistently communicated his efforts to listen to and work with physicians and other clinicians regarding MACRA. CMS accepted comments from clinicians and organizations on the proposed rule up until the end of June. A recent survey shows that only a small percentage (21 percent) of self-employed physicians are aware of MACRA and an even smaller percentage (9 percent) of employed physicians are aware of the new program.

When the final rule does come out and is implemented, whether or not CMS sufficiently addresses clinicians’ needs and requests remains to be seen.

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