This week, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt set forth guiding principles that CMS will consider in crafting regulations implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).  In January, Administrator Slavitt announced the end of the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Meaningful Use Program, which would instead be replaced by a “new regime culminating with the MACRA implementation.”

On February 23, 2016, Administrator Slavitt addressed the American Medical Association’s National Advocacy Conference, where he again emphasized that CMS’s key goal was to simplify the Medicare and Medicaid systems.  CMS intends to attain a simple and more streamlined system by improving technology systems.

Administrator Slavitt prioritized technological goals aimed at achieving interoperability, focusing specifically on “real-world uses of technology, like ensuring continuity of care during referrals or finding ways for patients to engage in their own care.”  Last week, CMS and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) took the first steps towards interoperability, announcing the release of seven sets of clinical quality measures, intended to align quality measures used by CMS and commercial payers in the industry.  Administrator Slavitt also reiterated that CMS would not tolerate “data blocking, [or] business models that prevent or inhibit the data from flowing around the needs of the patient.”

In addition to interoperability, CMS aims to:

  • reward providers for the outcomes that technology helps them achieve with their patients, rather than reimbursing simply for using technology;
  • allow flexibility so that providers can customize goals to their individual practice needs; and
  • level the technology playing field to promote innovation.

Administrator Slavitt hopes that these principles will reduce barriers for start-ups and new entrants into the market, and would allow technology to become more user-centered while still supporting physician needs.

Proposed regulations implementing MACRA are expected to be released this spring, and will be available for public comment.