Posted in Policy

MACRA final rule offers incentives for providers to use 2015 Edition certification criteria

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
MACRA final rule offers incentives for providers to use 2015 Edition certification criteria

Physicians will have flexibility regarding the electronic health record (EHR) technology they use in year two of the Medicare Quality Payment Program under a final rule announced Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In addition to allowing physicians to use either 2014 or 2015 Edition-certified EHR technology the Quality Payment Program’s (QPP) second year, practices that use only 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria will get a 10 percent bonus.

The 1,653-page final rule includes an interim final rule establishing an automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstance policy for the 2017 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) performance period which recognizes that hurricanes and other natural disasters can effectively prevent an eligible clinician from participating in MIPS.

The final rule includes a 90-day reporting window for three of the four MIPS components – clinical practice improvement activities, advancing care information, and resource use (or cost).

However, CMS said the quality component of MIPS will require a full-year performance period, a decision that concerns healthcare industry trade groups urging federal health officials to reduce the reporting burden for providers.

While expressing support for “some of the provisions” in the final rule, the American College of Physicians (ACP) argued that other provisions “are inconsistent with recently announced CMS initiatives on 'Patients Over Paperwork' and 'Meaningful Measures.'”

“We are disappointed that MIPS scoring remains overly complex and lacks standardization across performance categories,” the group said in a statement. “ACP is discouraged that CMS chose to increase the data completeness threshold for quality reporting data from the proposed 50 percent of patients to 60 percent in the final rule. This adds unnecessary burden to practices at a time when CMS has acknowledged that measures need improvement and excessive burdens should be reduced.”

Anders Gilbert, Medical Group Management Association's senior vice president for government affairs, tweeted that he was "deeply disappointed the final #QPP reg takes quality reporting requirement from 90 to 365 days in 2018 - not #patientsoverpaperwork."

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the new rules will remove burdensome regulations, thus “strengthening the patient-doctor relationship, empowering patients to realize the value of their care over volume of tests, and encouraging innovation and competition within the American healthcare system."