BREAKING: Slavitt Suggests MACRA Could Be Delayed

CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt told lawmakers Wednesday that the agency is considering delaying the start date for Medicare payment reform, which is set to go into effect Jan 1.

Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Slavitt said the CMS is concerned that some physicians, particularly at small practices, may not be ready for the changes under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act that replaced the much-maligned sustainable growth-rate formula.

Several medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Medical Group Management Association, have encouraged the CMS to delay MACRA.

In his opening testimony, Slavitt said the CMS is open to alternative measures that will achieve the agency's objectives, which include patient participation and reducing reporting burdens for practices.

Senators continued to show great concern for small and rural practices, which have said MACRA could force them to join hospitals or larger practices because of the paperwork and payment changes required.

Slavitt said the CMS is aware of these potential conflicts and also concerned. In addition to alternative start dates, he mentioned the possibility of shorter reporting periods or allowing doctors to get experience with the new methods before the “impact really hits them.”

“The focus on small independent practices and their ability to continue practicing independently is a very important priority for us,” he said.

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