A new healthcare law, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) is in the final stages of being written. Due to be finalized in November, it may go into effect as soon as January 2017 if the proposed schedule does not change. Because MACRA will affect how physicians are reimbursed by Medicare, it may cause changes from providers for Medicare patients.
What MACRA Does
MACRA is designed to marry the use of technologies such as electronic health records with the reimbursement to physicians. In a recent interview in Healthcare Finance News, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that MACRA was designed to replace the sustainable growth rate formula for paying physicians.
The new law is offers physicians more options in how patients are treated. Physicians want to offer more patient-centered treatments with a focus on quality and care coordination efforts. They also want to have more flexibility when treating Medicare patients.
Issues with MACRA
MACRA may be more difficult for smaller physician groups or solo practices to implement due to lack of budgeting for the new technology or staff to update reporting practices. In fact, a survey by Blackbook Research showed that 67% of physicians who see a high volume of Medicare patients foresee a need to join a larger group practice due to MACRA and 89% of solo physician practices expect to minimize Medicare patient volumes. However, Slavitt notes that MACRA will combine many current reporting practices and that CMS has invested $20 million a year to help smaller practices with reporting.
How MACRA Affects Family Caregivers
MACRA may affect health insurance and/or Medicare coverage for your senior. Since the law has yet to go into effect, family caregivers should stay in touch with medical providers that are paid through Medicare to understand if and how the new law will require changes on the part of the patient. If your physicians already use electronic health records, there is a good chance that changes will be minor. However, each physician is unique and will decide how to implement these changes.
Caregivers should make sure that their senior's providers are aware of the new law and proactively ask how care will be affected. A study by Deloitte in 2016 has shown that only 50% of practicing physicians are familiar with the new law.
After November 2016 when the MACRA law is finalized, there will be more specific news on how Medicare coverage will change.
If your senior is on Medicare, it is important to look for any mail from Medicare.
Physicians that care for Medicare patients are likely to mail information or have forms for caregivers to sign once the law goes into effect.
Check with all health providers to ensure that they will still accept Medicare patients under MACRA.
It is possible that deadlines will change, but MACRA has already passed and will replace the current Medicare laws.
At Caring Senior Service we are always ready to help seniors and their families by providing professional advice and services. As you consider ways to give support to your aging parents or relatives, consider including us in your plans. Contact our care team today!