On Thursday, April 16, 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). MACRA permanently replaces Medicare’s sustainable growth rate system for physician payments and reforms Medicare physician payment policies to encourage efficient, high-quality care; extends for two years funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program; extends numerous other expiring health provisions and the Secure Rural Schools program; and removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and makes other Medicare improvements.

The legislation includes important provisions that will:

– Reverse the harmful global payments policy announced in the 2015 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;

– Streamline Medicare’s existing quality programs

– Establish one value-based performance program

– Alleviate much of the reporting burdens faced by physician

– Give medical societies control of performance measures development

– Give individual physicians more control over which measurements will be used to measure the physician

– Ensure that participation in a Registry automatically qualifies as Meaningful Use Level 3

– Expand availability of Medicare data by allowing qualified clinical data registries to purchase claims data for purposes of quality improvement and patient safety; and

– Clarify that the development of quality guidelines in Medicare or through other laws cannot be construed to establish a standard or duty of care, protecting doctors from lawsuits based on federal quality measures.

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