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  • Washington Highlights

    Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Hearing on Physician Payments

    Len Marquez, Senior Director, Government Relations

    The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health March 17 held a hearing on the implementation of Medicare payment reforms included in the repeal and replacement of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, passed last year in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) [see Washington Highlights, April 17, 2015].

    Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) opened the hearing applauding the replacement of the SGR and stating, “Through a variety of incentives, physicians are encouraged to engage in activities to improve quality. Existing quality reporting programs are consolidated and streamlined into a new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).”

    Expressing his optimism regarding the new physician payment system, Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) added, “this was a bill aimed at maintaining access for Medicare patients to their physicians.”.

    Full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) also expressed great support of the new payment system stating, “MACRA put in place a dual track system for providers. Providers who choose to remain in fee-for-service are able to do so. Instead of the patchwork of quality reporting systems that providers currently use, they will instead use the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System or MIPS. MIPS will streamline quality reporting for providers and incentivize high-quality efficient care. Providers can also choose to use Alternative Payment Models or APMs. APMs have proven to increase quality and lower costs.”

    In his testimony, Patrick Conway, M.D., MSc., deputy administrator for Innovation and Quality, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), applauded Congress for their leadership in passing the bipartisan MACRA stating, “it supports the ongoing transformation of health care delivery by furthering the development of new Medicare payment and delivery models for physicians and other clinicians.”

    Dr. Conway noted CMS’s commitment to engaging with stakeholders through the implementation process stating, “In CMS’s calendar year 2016 PFS proposed rule, we solicited comments regarding implementation of certain aspects of the MIPS and broadly sought comments on the topics in MACRA, including the framework for providing the incentive payments associated with APM participation.”