Earlier this month, CMS announced that it’s creating a tiered approach that allows physicians and other clinicians more flexibility in reporting data in the first year of Medicare’s new quality payment program, which is set to start Jan. 1, 2017.
What does this mean for providers? Essentially, you can determine their own pace and when to participate. Here are the four available options:
First Option: Test the Quality Payment Program.
With this option, as long as you submit some data to the Quality Payment Program, including data from after January 1, 2017, you will avoid a negative payment adjustment. This first option is designed to ensure that your system is working and that you are prepared for broader participation in 2018 and 2019 as you learn more.
Second Option: Participate for part of the calendar year.
You may choose to submit Quality Payment Program information for a reduced number of days. This means your first performance period could begin later than January 1, 2017 and your practice could still qualify for a small positive payment adjustment. For example, if you submit information for part of the calendar year for quality measures, how your practice uses technology, and what improvement activities your practice is undertaking, you could qualify for a small positive payment adjustment. You could select from the list of quality measures and improvement activities available under the Quality Payment Program.
Third Option: Participate for the full calendar year.
For practices that are ready to go on January 1, 2017, you may choose to submit Quality Payment Program information for a full calendar year. This means your first performance period would begin on January 1, 2017. For example, if you submit information for the entire year on quality measures, how your practice uses technology, and what improvement activities your practice is undertaking, you could qualify for a modest positive payment adjustment. We’ve seen physician practices of all sizes successfully submit a full year’s quality data, and expect many will be ready to do so.
Fourth Option: Participate in an Advanced Alternative Payment Model in 2017.
Instead of reporting quality data and other information, the law allows you to participate in the Quality Payment Program by joining an Advanced Alternative Payment Model, such as Medicare Shared Savings Track 2 or 3 in 2017. If you receive enough of your Medicare payments or see enough of your Medicare patients through the Advanced Alternative Payment Model in 2017, then you would qualify for a 5 percent incentive payment in 2019.
Many experts agree that physicians don’t have enough time or resources to succeed under a pay-for-performance system. A recent Medscape survey found that 59 percent of physicians in practices with less than 25 clinicians expect to receive a performance penalty as high as 4 percent under MACRA.
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