The forgotten track: Medicare ACOs qualify for third MACRA option

Since the CMS implemented the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act last fall, physicians have been concerned that their value-based payment options put too much financial risk on their practices. 

The Merit-based Incentive Payment System, known as MIPS, and advanced alternative payment models penalize physicians for poor performance scores. 

But a third, lesser-known option is available for physicians participating in Track 1 of the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Dubbed the MIPS-APM track, it doesn't punish physicians for low scores in MACRA performance categories.

Experts say the track, which is technically part of MIPS, prepares physicians for the shift to value-based care without the potential for any financial losses. However, the model is only available to doctors participating in Medicare accountable care organizations, which come with their own level of risk including a significant amount of upfront financial investments in the hope that they will yield cost savings and improved quality. 

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