"The more things change, the more they remain the same." This French proverb is more relevant than ever when it comes to the proposed CMS changes for E&M documentation. Despite the exuberant celebration that greeted the announcement from CMS earlier this year that promised to reduce "documentation overload" for physicians, the reality is that the E&M documentation rules that have been around for over 20 years aren’t changing anytime soon.
Hayes' Healthcare Blog
The provider community has been begging for documentation reform for over 20 years, and there is no question that simplifying the complex requirements of clinical documentation is necessary. Unfortunately, the recent release of the proposed changes from CMS surrounding evaluation and management (E/M) is not the answer. The benefits of the modest reduction in documentation requirements are more than offset by the devastating impact the changes will have operationally, clinically, and financially.
The shock and awe of the April release of the 962-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) has started to wear off as the healthcare industry continues to dig into the details. Slogging through the NPRM is an intimidating but necessary chore as healthcare organizations try to determine how it affects them.
MACRA represents change – significant change – in the way Medicare providers conduct business so it’s not surprising that much of the feedback has been negative. People dislike and fear change regardless of the reasons for it or the potential positive outcomes. Adding to the resistance is the fact that in recent years, changes in the healthcare industry have been aimed at providers like water from a fire hose and “change fatigue” is starting to set in. Lastly, providers know that most governmental changes to reimbursement have meant fewer collections for their practice. At best, they have been trained to hope that these types of changes are revenue neutral.
Despite the negative reviews, MACRA and the NPRM that puts it into action is not all bad. In fact there are several positives to be taken from the new law. Here is a look at the major pros and cons of MACRA.
Congressional passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) last year was only the beginning of a major upheaval in Medicare reimbursements. This past April the other shoe fell – all 962 pages of it. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) providing the details on the plan to transition healthcare providers from a payment system based on volume to one that rewards value. MACRA is the next step in driving healthcare organizations from a fee-for-service to a value-based care reimbursement model.
The massive NPRM document will be dissected and discussed (and maybe even read) for many months to come, but the implications for clinicians providing care under Medicare Part B are real and far-reaching. The major consequence for those of you who are Medicare providers is that you will soon have to choose to operate under a merit-based incentive program or transition to an Alternative Payment Model. Other than leaving the practice of medicine, there is no third choice.
Here are nine things you need to know to help you begin digesting this next significant change in the healthcare industry.
“We are deadly serious about interoperability.”
-Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at the J. P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco in January 2016.
For those of us in the healthcare vendor community, that defining statement sets the tone for the future interaction between organizations. Slavitt was also clear that achieving interoperability means “leveling the technology playing field” and requiring vendors to interchange data. He discussed open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) as a specific model for integrating and moving data seamlessly between technologies. These are now guiding principles as we collectively try to benefit more from interactions outside our specific verticals.