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Nearly 85% of independent physicians unsure of MACRA requirements, but look to participate

Only four percent said they strongly agreed that they knew what MACRA required of them.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

A new survey conducted by medical technology company Kareo found that 84 percent of independent physicians and staff aren't sure what MACRA's Quality Payment Program will require of their practice, yet 85 percent said they would participate in it to the best of their ability.

With payment adjustments potentially reaching plus or minus 9 percent by 2022, Kareo is interpreting this as good news, saying it means that most practices intend to do what is necessary to avoid an adjustment, or try to get an incentive.

The survey was conducted after the final rule was released in October, and over 170 medical practices responded. The overall results show that most practices expect to participate, but they still aren't sure how the program will impact revenue.

[Also: New ACO model qualifies for APM incentive payments under MACRA]

The proposed rule was announced in the spring of 2016, followed by a comment period. Industry groups, providers and vendors responded with feedback, some of which was incorporated into the rule. The final rule came out on Oct. 14, and it stated that the reporting period would begin on Jan. 1, 2017 for those who want to fully participate and try to get a positive payment adjustment. That left just over two months for eligible clinicians and vendors to get ready.

The complexity and aggressive timing of the rule has proven problematic. When asked if they understood what MACRA requires of their practice, 41 percent said they were not sure and 43 percent said they disagreed or strongly disagreed. Only four percent said they strongly agreed that they knew what MACRA required of them.

Similar results were seen when asked about the impact on revenue. Sixty-three percent weren't sure if MACRA would reduce reimbursement. When asked about whether MACRA would increase reporting burdens, most were sure it would. Over 60 percent said the reporting requirements would increase for their practice.

[Also: Physicians, EHR vendors share burden in readying for MACRA]

"Independent practitioners want to stay independent so they want to participate in programs like MACRA and avoid possible penalties," said Kareo founder and CEO Dan Rodrigues in a statement. "But they need help to do it. The addition of the Pick Your Pace options in the final rule is a step in the right direction."

The "Pick Your Pace" plan describes four path options by which providers could participate at various levels and for a reporting period in 2017; choosing one of the four options would eliminate the possibility of receiving a negative payment adjustment in 2019.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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