CMS Chief Andy Slavitt Says New Law Lets Doctors be Doctors

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, known as MACRA, will be one of the most dramatic changes to how Medicare pays physicians. But the marrying of quality-based reimbursement with demonstrated use of technologies and electronic health records has already sparked worry among not only physicians, but advocates like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Perhaps nobody carries the burden of calming those fears more than Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He's already been called to testify in front of Congressional committees about the benefits of the law change, and is currently weighing more that 4,000 formal comments about the law.

Healthcare Finance recently spoke with Slavitt about MACRA and the benefits he sees in the law changes.

"Legislation always gives us the opportunity to make historic shifts in the healthcare system and in our programs," he said. "The legislation itself isn't our destiny, it just lays out a framework."

MACRA was designed to replace the sustainable growth rate formula, or "Doc Fix," which Slavitt said required too many last-minute fixes to what would have been significant reductions in physicians' pay. The new rule passed with overwhelming bipartisan support last year.

"I don't think anybody would say they're happy with the way healthcare payments work today," Slavitt said.

MACRA, according to Slavitt, took the successful lessons learned in payment experiments like patient-centered medical homes, bundled payments and team-based models like accountable care organizations, and move them into the mainstream "by taking what works and adding some additional options for physicians who get better results," he said.

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