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HHS Announces $20M to Assist Physician Practices Under MACRA

This funding will assist small physician practices in understanding how to shape their workflows for success under MACRA.

By Sara Heath

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced $20 million in funding to train and educate Medicare physicians at small group practices in the wake of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

The funds will help train small practices in rural and underserved areas, and will prepare them for the upcoming changes in the Quality Payment Program. Because those changes alter how Medicare pays physicians, HHS is setting out to support smaller, less-resourced practices in order to help them succeed under the new payment structures.

According to Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, the agency added this funding provision to MACRA because it puts high priority on small, underserved, or rural practices as instrumental care sites for patients.

“Doctors and health care providers in small and rural practices are critical to our goal of building a health care system that works for everyone,” she said in a press release. “Supporting local health care providers with the resources and information necessary for them to provide quality care is a top priority for this administration.”

HHS will provide $20 million in funding for the next five years, totaling $100 million in funding assistance to help support small practices. These grants are required under the MACRA legislation.

“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 of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “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.”

In order to qualify for the federal assistance, aid organizations need to demonstrate their ability to provide training to small physician practices, and follow through by providing training on the updated Quality Payment Program at no charge to the practices.

Aid organizations will also need to train practices in considering the actions which will help them be successful under MACRA, such as certain hospital protocol or EHR use.

“Providing these tools to help physicians and other clinicians in small practices navigate new programs is key to making sure they are able to focus on what is most important: the needs of their patients,” said B. Vindell Washington MD, MHCM, FACEP, principal deputy national coordinator.

“As with the Office of the National Coordinator for health ITs funding for regional extension centers, this assistance will help health care providers leverage health information technology to enhance their practices and the care they deliver.”

HHS will announce the awardees of such funding come November, 2016.

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