February 22, 2018

New Health Policy Brief: Medicare’s New Physician Payment System

Health Policy Brief

A new policy brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provides a primer on the Medicare payment part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. For more than two decades, Congress and the federal government have struggled with how to reimburse providers in the Medicare program and at the same time promote high-quality care that uses medical resources judiciously.

Revising Medicare fee schedules has been a perennially thorny political ritual. While MACRA passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, a request soon after the law’s enactment from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for information on how the law should be implemented yielded hundreds of comments from most major stakeholders, signaling both areas of agreement and of tension.

The brief describes the formula MACRA will use to give physicians fee increases and it illustrates its implementation timeline. It explains how physicians will need to enroll in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or join an alternative payment model.


About Health Policy Briefs

Health Policy Briefs are aimed at policymakers, congressional staffers, and others needing short, jargon-free explanations of health policy basics. The briefs, which are reviewed by experts in the field, include competing arguments on policy proposals and the relevant research supporting each perspective.

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Sign up for an email alert about upcoming briefs. The briefs are also available from the RWJF’s website.

Please feel free to forward the briefs to any of your colleagues who are tracking health issues. And after you’ve taken a look, we welcome your feedback.

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