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CMS awards $100 million for MACRA quality payment program training

The funds will provide training for clinicians in thousands of individual or small group practices of 15 clinicians or fewer.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is awarding $20 million to 11 organizations and up to $80 million over the next four years to train clinicians in the quality payment program of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA.

Approximately $20 million will go to 11 organizations for the first year of a five-year program. Another $80 million will be invested over the remaining four years, CMS said.

The funds will provide training for clinicians in thousands of individual or small group practices of 15 clinicians or fewer in rural areas, medically underserved regions and where there are health professional shortages.

[Also: While most pledge participation, providers lack clear strategy for MACRA compliance]

Local, experienced, community-based organizations will provide hands-on, customized technical assistance at no cost to to eligible clinicians and practices, CMS said.

For example, clinicians will receive help choosing and reporting on quality measures, as well as guidance in supporting change management and strategic planning and assessing and optimizing health information technology.

"Clinicians in small and rural practices are critical to serving the millions of Americans across the nation who rely on Medicare for their healthcare," said Dr. Kate Goodrich, CMS chief medical officer and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. "Congress, through the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, recognized the importance of small practices and rural practices and provided the funding for this assistance, so clinicians in these practices can navigate the new program, while being able to focus on what matters most -- the needs of their patients."

[Also: Nearly 85% of independent physicians unsure of MACRA requirements, but look to participate]

The funding is part of outreach efforts including a new CMS  helpline available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at 1-866-288-8292.

The quality payment program final rule was released last October. The two tracks in the payment model are the merit-based incentive system, MIPS, and the advanced alternative payment model, APM.

The following 11 organizations were awarded the $20 million to train clinicians in small practices: Altarum, Georgia Medical Care Foundation, HealthCentric, Health Services Advisory Group, IPRO, Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement, QSource, Qualis, Quality Insights (West Virginia Medical Institute), Telligen, and the TMF Health Quality Institute.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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