HCN News & Notes

AMA Testifies at Panel on Pending Medicare Changes

WASHINGTON — Dr. Barbara McAneny, immediate past chair of the American Medical Association (AMA), told a House panel Tuesday that the soon-to-be released regulations to implement the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) represent a critical opportunity to improve flexibility and innovation in health care that can lead to improved care and better outcomes for patients.

Appearing before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, she noted the widespread support for transforming the Medicare program to improve payment, streamline quality reporting, and promote better health care delivery. This shared goal was evident last year when Congress, with overwhelming bipartisan support, passed MACRA.

“MACRA makes significant improvements over the current system, including the repeal of the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate formula and giving the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) an opportunity to reset and improve performance measurement as well as other requirements,” McAneny said.  “By increasing the availability of alternative payment models, CMS will spur innovative delivery models focused on enhanced care coordination that can lead to better outcomes for patients.”

In her testimony, McAneny detailed how the AMA is working with CMS, state and specialty medical societies, and other stakeholders to ensure that MACRA is implemented in a manner that follows Congressional intent and supports a more efficient and high quality health care system. She noted that the AMA convened a task force of specialties and state medical societies to build consensus on how best to implement the law’s changes and how the AMA is working in partnership with partners within organized medicine to educate physicians and practices about the new law, offering summaries that break down MACRA into plain language. McAneny highlighted the three necessary steps to ensure MACRA’s successful implementation:

  • Consolidated Performance Reporting. MACRA should significantly improve quality reporting, partly by reducing the existing burdensome reporting requirements that are often outdated and inaccurate;
  • Broadening Alternative Payment Models. MACRA regulations must provide a clear pathway for physicians to propose new models and ensure physicians in every specialty can participate; and
  • Improving Measurement. MACRA regulations should be more flexible to take into consideration the numerous differences between practices.

To help the federal government implement the new law, the AMA has provided extensive feedback to CMS through numerous comment letters on specific aspects of MACRA implementation, McAneny said. The AMA has responded to CMS’ requests for information that provided advice on the agency’s proposal for a quality measure development plan and episode groups. Furthermore, the AMA has hosted a number of listening sessions with CMS for different specialties and other stakeholders. The AMA is actively engaged in helping physicians navigate MACRA and is working to assist agency officials as it implements the law. The AMA will continue these efforts and add additional resources as CMS announces proposals related to MACRA and finalizes its regulations.