CMS Opens Door to Possible MACRA Delay

In related news to yesterday’s meaningful use REBOOT relief legislation, Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator of CMS, testified about MACRA before the Senate Finance committee. In his hearing, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the committee commented “Physicians will only have about two months before the program goes live. This seems to be a legitimate concern. Considering the MACRA law does give CMS flexibility as to the start of the physician reporting period, what options is CMS considering to make sure this program gets started on the right foot?”

In response to this Slavitt responded that CMS was open to options such as postponing implementation and establishing shorter reporting periods (both of which were widely requested during the MACRA comment period).

Both Slavitt and Senator Hatch talked about the importance of the MACRA legislation not killing the small practice physician. A delay and shorter reporting periods would be a great start. However, so many small practices have been burned by meaningful use that it might be too late for MACRA. It seems that MACRA is dead on arrival for many physicians based on historical experience with meaningful use and certified EHR. I’m not sure CMS could do anything with MACRA to really stem the tide.

This is reflected in a survey that Deloitte recently did to assess physician’s awareness of MACRA. The survey found that 21% of self-employed physicians and those in independently owned medical practices report they are somewhat familiar with MACRA versus 9% of employed physicians surveyed. 32% of physicians only recognize the name.

Basically, physicians barely even know about MACRA. Although, I’m quite sure if we asked them if they liked the MACRA government legislation they’d all say an emphatic No! (Kind of reminds me of Jimmy Kimmel’s Life Witness News) It’s too bad, because if doctors have already been participating in PQRS and Meaningful Use, MACRA won’t be that bad. Of course, the same can’t be said for those that haven’t participated in either program.

During the hearing mentioned above, Senator Hatch highlighted Andy Slavitt’s comment that “the focus must be focused on patients and not measurement.” Plus, he suggested that more needed to be done in this regard. Andy Slavitt responded that they need to reduce the documentation requirements so doctors can spend more time with patients.

Take those comments for what their worth. They’re hearing the right messages and I think they’re heading the right direction. Let’s hope we see that in the MACRA final rule.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

2 Comments

  • John:
    Ineither use a CCHIT certified EMR , nor participate in any schemes.
    I consistently deliver ALL the aims of MACRA and more and have patients who are very satisfied.
    I don’t like to use outdated technology or clunky software that is inflexible to my needs.
    Where do people like me who are light years ahead of the “CCHIT Certified” health information technology, routinely share information almost in real time with people who need to know, have practice where people are willing to pay cash for services fit in with Mr. Slavitt’s agenda?
    Why can’t CMS just dictate what is needed than micromanaging how information is collected, which software is used or how information is conveyed?
    Just look at the klutzy hospital enterprise EMR to understand how much public money has been transferred to unusable, non-functional software…
    I do not work for our hospital but take my patients there to do procedures. My hospital MEC demanded all “providers” ( as they like to call doctors use CERNER CPOE. It is an abomination and a joke on physicians! I balked, put them on notice and demandd they send their staff to my office to understand my needs and workflow impact. If they don’t figure out how to make this process painless for me, I would not hesitate to move business elsewhere> Hospitals need to be customer friendly( ie allow me to send in order for procedures in a easy and understandable way, reduce errors, reduce re-duplication of work) .

  • “Why can’t CMS just dictate what is needed than micromanaging how information is collected, which software is used or how information is conveyed?”

    I wish I knew the answer to this question and how to change it. I think the only answer is politics and people with good intentions not understanding the impact of their decisions.

    I imagine you’re not one that would like when they floated the idea of certified EHR use as part of your medical licensure? 😉 Crazy stuff, but I won’t be surprised if it surfaces again.

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