Whitfield L. Knapple, MD, FACG Chair, ACG National Affairs
Whitfield L. Knapple, MD, FACG
Chair, ACG National Affairs

As many of you know, last week CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt was quoted in the press stating that “in 2016, MU as it has existed– with MACRA — will now be effectively over and replaced with something better.” MACRA, or the “Medicare Access or CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015,” was the legislation passed in 2015 that eliminated the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and implements a new reimbursement system beginning 2019. CMS backed off of that statement a bit this week and provided some clarity in an Agency blog post. CMS stated that the Agency will be seeking feedback from physicians and stakeholders in the coming days on making improvements and changes to the Meaningful Use Program.

“What this Means for Doctors and Hospitals 

As we work through a transition from the staged Meaningful Use phase to the new program under MACRA, it is important for physicians and other clinicians to keep in mind several important things:

  1. The current law requires that we continue to measure the meaningful use of ONC Certified Health Information Technology under the existing set of standards. While MACRA provides an opportunity to adjust payment incentives associated with EHR incentives in concert with the principles we outlined here, it does not eliminate it, nor will it instantly eliminate all the tensions of the current system. However, we will continue to listen and learn and make improvements based on what happens on the front line.
  2. The MACRA legislation only addresses Medicare physician and clinician payment adjustments. The EHR incentive programs for Medicaid and Medicare hospitals have a different set of statutory requirements. We will continue to explore ways to align with the principles we outlined above as much as possible for hospitals and the Medicaid program.
  3. The approach to meaningful use under MACRA won’t happen overnight. Our goal in communicating our principles now is to give everyone enough time to adequately plan for what’s next and to continue to give us input. We encourage you to look for the MACRA regulations this year; in the meantime, our existing regulations – including meaningful use Stage 3 – are still in effect.
  4. In December, Congress gave us new authority to streamline the process for granting hardship exceptions under meaningful use. This will allow groups of health care providers to apply for a hardship exception instead of each doctor applying individually. This should make the process much simpler for physicians and their practice managers in the future. We will be releasing guidance on this new process soon.”

Questions on Participating in Meaningful Use: Updated ACG Guidance

Members are encouraged to review ACG’s updated background and guidance on participating in Meaningful Use, which includes important dates to remember as your practice goes through this process.

ACG is pleased that our advocacy efforts regarding the significant administrative and practice expense burdens associated with participating in Meaningful Use are helping to make changes in the program.   ACG will continue to work with Congress as well as CMS to provide much needed relief for members participating in this onerous program.

Whitfield Knapple, MD, Chair

ACG National Affairs Committee