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HHS sets aside $20 million to help small practices prepare for payments under MACRA

Money will help provide hands-on training tailored to small practices, especially those that practice in historically under-resourced areas.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

The Department of Health and Human Services has earmarked $20 million to fund training and education for Medicare clinicians in individual or small group practices of 15 clinicians or fewer, relating to the Quality Payment program. The program has been proposed to implement the new law changing how Medicare pays clinicians, known as the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, or MACRA.

These funds, HHS said, will help provide hands-on training tailored to small practices, especially those that practice in historically under-resourced areas: rural areas, health professional shortage areas, and medically underserved areas among them.

As required by MACRA, HHS will continue to award $20 million each year over the next five years, providing a total of $100 million to help small practices successfully participate in the Quality Payment Program. In order to receive funding, organizations must demonstrate their ability to strategically provide customized training to clinicians. These organizations will provide education and consultation about the Quality Payment Program at no cost to the clinician or their practice.

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[Also: Most small medical practices expect MACRA to spell the end]

Organizations receiving the funding would support small practices by helping them think through what they need to be successful under the Quality Payment Program, such as what quality measures and/or electronic health records may be appropriate for their practices' needs. Organizations would also train clinicians about the new clinical practice improvement activities, and how these new activities could fit into their practices' workflow, or help practices evaluate their options for joining an alternative payment model.

"The bipartisan MACRA legislation gave us the tools to improve Medicare and make it modern and sustainable by improving the incentives for and lowering the burden on clinicians," said Dr. Patrick Conway, acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in a statement. "Real change must start from the ground up, and today's announcement recognizes this reality by getting doctors the resources they need to provide better, smarter care."

[Also: CMS to offer $10 million in grants to help physicians to transition to MACRA]

Award winners will be announced by November.  HHS is encouraging all qualified organizations to apply for the funding, which they can do here

Twitter: @JELagasse