The CMS on Friday said it would give 11 community-based organizations about $20 million to help small practices prepare for changes in the way Medicare pays physicians.
The money is for the first year of a five-year program. The CMS said it plans to invest as much as $80 million more over the following four years to help clinicians with the Quality Payment Program under the 2015 Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA.
“Clinicians in small and rural practices are critical to serving the millions of Americans across the nation who rely on Medicare for their healthcare,” Dr. Kate Goodrich, the CMS' chief medical officer, said in a statement. The assistance from the CMS would help ensure “clinicians in these practices can navigate the new program, while being able to focus on what matters most—the needs of their patients,” she said.
The organizations are expected to provide technical assistance to individuals or to practices of 15 clinicians or fewer. That assistance includes choosing and reporting quality measures, strategic planning and optimizing health information technology.
MACRA gives physicians two options for participating in the Quality Payment Program. One is the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, in which physicians must report on quality, resource use, clinical practice improvement and advancing care information, which replaces meaningful use. The other track is to qualify as an advanced alternative payment model such as an accountable care organization.
The first reporting year is 2017, but not all physicians are prepared for, or even aware of, what they'll have to do to be paid under this new system. According to a survey of 523 physicians carried out by Deloitte in 2016, half had never heard of the law. Nearly three-quarters said that performance reporting was burdensome.
The CMS described its newest funding as "part of a multi-level outreach effort" that has provided training and education to "thousands," online and in person.
The contracts were awarded to Altarum, Georgia Medical Care Foundation, HealthCentric, Health Services Advisory Group, IPRO, Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement, QSource, Qualis, Quality Insights, Telligen and TMF Health Quality Institute.