GOP Doctors Caucus: We’re watching MACRA
All the discussion about whether Congress will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has pushed issues surrounding implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 into the background.
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But it turns out the GOP Doctors Caucus is watching the rollout of MACRA carefully and promises to insist on changes if needed.
Caucus Chair U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, MD, (R-Tennessee) says he and his colleagues in the 16-member caucus remain concerned about how the law could affect physicians.
“I believe all options should be on the table to ensure MACRA is implemented in a way that benefits patients and keeps providers—particularly those in small practices—in the Medicare program,” he tells Medical Economics.
Roe has heard from physicians who think the final rule improves on the earlier version of the rule because it allows them not to participate in this first year of its implementation. “But further flexibility for small practices and solo providers would still be welcomed,” he says.
The GOP will monitor the law’s implementation closely and work with the Trump administration to make changes if needed, Roe adds.
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U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), a physician and caucus member , agrees that the changes the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made in the final rule will ease some of the challenges physicians will face in complying with the law. “After the release of the proposed rule, members of Congress and the medical community called for increased flexibility for physicians to be reflected in the final rule. I was pleased to see those requested changes made and increased flexibility built in,” Burgess says.
Burgess adds that the final rule, issued in October 2016, addressed the concerns of small, independent and rural practices.
‘Death knell’ no more
Robert A. Berenson, MD, a fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., echoed Burgess’ comments about the effect of MACRA on physicians. An early critic of the law, Berenson now says MACRA should no longer be considered the “death knell” for many small physician practices.
Early last year, Berenson opposed the law’s proposed rule. But now, he says, the revisions CMS made in the law’s final rule make compliance with the law much easier for physicians, especially those in small practices.