Staying the course is the best option
Last year, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) indicated that it would offer several “pick-your-pace” options to help physicians ease into compliance with MACRA in 2017.
These options give provider organizations some leeway as to when they can start meeting MACRA's Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) requirements in 2017, allowing providers that were not ready by January 1 to still participate in the program without penalty.
How should physicians approach this choice? Should they select a partial or full participation option?
Although pick-your-pace offers physicians the flexibility to report their 2017 MACRA measures for either a partial year or with partial data without penalty, practices should not view these options as a way to delay compliance. In fact, practices would be well advised to proceed full steam ahead, aiming to document and report all full set of Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) data measures for a full reporting period in 2017, which is a minimum of any 90 consecutive days.
There are several reasons why this is a good approach. First and foremost, there are no risks to full participation. CMS has made 2017 a transition year, so organizations can take part in MACRA without penalty.
This provides the opportunity to test their reporting capabilities, identify potential compliance weaknesses and implement solutions in preparation for 2018 without risk. In addition, there are potential incentives for organizations that participate for the full reporting period.
Another reason to fully embrace compliance in 2017 is that most practices are familiar with what they need to do. Those that participated in the Meaningful Use and Physician Quality Reporting System programs are well-positioned to transition easily to MACRA, because it is comprised of many of the elements of those programs.
With a few tweaks, providers can ready themselves for full MIPS reporting in 2017, which will leave them well positioned to earn incentives and avoid penalties in the future.
With policy changes possible under the new administration, many aspects of healthcare reform face an uncertain future in 2017. But value-based reimbursement initiatives such as MACRA, should remain in place in 2017 and beyond. Those practices that commit to following the requirements for 2017 can seize opportunities without penalty and reap positive benefits.