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Small practices plagued by complexity of Medicare regulations, show dim view of MIPS, MGMA study shows

Survey evaluated responses from 750 group practices, with largest representation from independent practices, groups of 6 to 20 physicians.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

When it comes to whether a reduction in Medicare regulatory complexity would help practices focus resources on patient care, the answer is yes, according to the 2017 MGMA Regulatory Burden Survey.

The survey evaluated responses from 750 group practices, with the largest representation in independent medical practices and groups with 6 to 20 physicians.

Results showed that while 84 percent of respondents said their practices are participating in MIPS in 2017, 73 percent of respondents viewed the MIPS program as "a government program that does not support our practice's clinical quality priorities."

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[Also: CMS issues call for clinicians to propose, submit new MIPS measures]

The majority viewed MIPS as complex, with 38 percent calling it very complex and 35 percent calling it extremely complex.  A staggering 82 percent said the Quality Payment Program, which includes MIPS, is very or extremely burdensome. More than half of respondents, or 64 percent, said they strongly agreed that a reduction in Medicare regulations help practices focus their resources on patient care.

Those resources right now, seem to be going towards regulatory compliance, with 38 percent of respondents saying they spend anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 per full-time physician on compliance-related efforts.

[Also: New revenue cycle service optimized for MIPS, value-based models]

The top issues with the MIPS program generating the most concern included its clinical relevance to patient care, where 80 percent of respondents were either very or extremely concerned and relevance to specialty care, with 78 percent showing a high level of concern. Overall implementation costs generated high levels of concern from 71 percent and a lack of clear program guidance had 69 percent responding with "very or extremely concerned."

The 2018 MACRA rule did finally implement virtual groups, a major sticking point, especially for small practices. It also implemented more flexibility and exemptions for those with low-Medicare beneficiary volumes, which means that more clinicians will be exempt from participation in 2018.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn