Senate Finance Committee Holds MACRA Hearing
On the morning of July 13th, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing titled: Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015: Ensuring Successful Implementation of Physician Payment Reforms with CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt as the sole witness. Chairman, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) delivered the committee’s opening statement concerning the proposal for implementing the physician payment reforms included in MACRA. He went on to say that, “The passage of MACRA was a tremendous bipartisan achievement that addressed long-standing and reoccurring problems under Medicare.”
The passage of MACRA is considered to be one of the first of many significant bipartisan accomplishments seen in the 114th Congress. However, stakeholders acknowledge that much work must be done to ensure proper implementation of the rule.
The ultimate goals of MACRA and reform addressed were: streamlining disjointed incentive programs in order to reduce the administrative burden on physicians, providing an incentive to consider and attempt alternative payment models, ensuring that metrics on which physicians are assessed are relevant to the patients they are treating, and providing flexibility to physicians to participate in a way that fits their practice situation.
The Committee as well as CMS both recognized that there are still challenges and improvements to be made with MACRA. The law needs to be implemented in a way that works for both physicians and patients and practice settings must remain viable options for Medicare beneficiaries. Slavitt indicated that CMS was open to considering multiple ways to address physician concerns about their readiness for the new Medicare payment scheme scheduled to start next year. Options mentioned included an alternative start date or a shorter reporting period.