Looking ahead

CMS chief: ‘MACRA will promote coordinated, patient-focused care’

In remarks to the AOA House of Delegates, Andy Slavitt thanked DOs for the care they provide to rural and underserved patients.


What’s wrong with health care today? Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, who has sought feedback from consumers and clinicians across the country on Medicare’s new MACRA physician payment system, has several ideas.

In remarks to the AOA’s House of Delegates, Slavitt cited a confusing, fragmented medical system; hard-to-use electronic medical record (EMR) systems; and burdensome reporting requirements as issues CMS hopes to address with the new payment system. CMS will issue its final rule on MACRA by Nov. 1, 2016, with physician reporting set to begin Jan. 1, 2017, though Slavitt indicated CMS is considering the possibility of delaying that start date.

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Osteopathic example

To illustrate MACRA’s goals, Slavitt cited the practice model of James Greenfield, DO, whose Cornerstone Coordinated Health Care provides a one-stop shop for primary care, mental health and social services in a rural, underserved Pennsylvania town. “Our goal with MACRA is to promote coordinated, patient-focused care at a reasonable cost,” Slavitt explained. “Medicare will pay for the same services as always, but physicians will be paid more for better care, like having staff follow up with patients at home.”

How MACRA will work

MACRA will streamline existing reporting programs into one framework, Slavitt said, and will push EMR vendors to make their products interoperable. Small and rural practices will benefit from the chance to join medical home models, and advanced alternative payment models will offer physicians the chance to earn extra bonuses and be exempted from quality reporting requirements.

For DOs, Slavitt said, MACRA’s goals won’t be a huge departure. CMS’ policies aim to fall more in line with the patient-centered care DOs provide, he noted. “You’re focused on treating people, not symptoms, so people can live their lives and heal,” he said. “With all that’s happening in health care, it’s reassuring to see a profession heading in the right direction.”

To read Slavitt’s remarks in full, visit the CMS blog.

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