POLICY BRIEFINGS


MACRA Final Rule Released


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its long awaited final rule last week outlining how the agency would implement the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), legislation that repealed the sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment formula and replaced it with a system designed to base reimbursement on the quality of care provided. CMS received more than 4,000 comments on the proposed rule, and more than 100,000 stakeholders participated in sessions with CMS to provide feedback on the draft. In response to concerns about the administrative burden of the payment overhaul on providers, CMS decided that practices with less than $30,000 in charges to Medicare’s outpatient program, or no more than 100 patients enrolled in Medicare, will be exempt from the new regulations. The flexibilities in the final rule were applauded by many lawmakers, including Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.). “We’re pleased to see the administration responded to many of our concerns and followed our recommendation to provide clinicians and practitioners more flexibility in the issuance of the final rule for MACRA,” the lawmakers said. “These steps help enhance practitioner participation in new Medicare payment opportunities that will ultimately improve patient care and outcomes.” Prior to the release of the final rule, Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt announced new long-term efforts on the part of the agency to increase clinician engagement. As part of this effort, CMS will launch an 18-month pilot program aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on physicians participating in the advanced alternative payment model (APM) track of MACRA.


Administration Announces New Funding for Health Care Initiatives


The White House has announced that it will direct $70 million in new funding to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With this money, the NIH will be able to provide over 100 new grants to more than 170 researchers. Last week’s announcement brings total federal investment in the BRAIN Initiative to $150 million in fiscal year (FY) 2016. The administration also announced that it would direct $16 million in additional funding for the  Precision Medicine Initiative. The funds will be awarded to four regional medical health care organizations (California Precision Medicine Consortium, Geisinger Health System, New England Precision Medicine Consortium, and Trans-American Consortium for the Health Care Systems Research Network) to assist in the creation of a database of health care information. 



October 17, 2016: | Page 1 Page 2

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