2017-02-06 19:41:47 UTC

President Trump, Republican Congress Set Ambitious Health-Care Agenda

Feb. 9, 2017

Republicans aim to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but GIs will still need to participate in MACRA.

Within the first few days of his presidency, President Donald Trump has vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” with an alternative plan that will cover as many people. Republicans in Congress have tried for years to repeal Obamacare, and now that a republican is in the White House, they will be able to finally work toward fulfilling that promise. However, things aren't always as easy as they seem.

Repeal of the ACA
The House and Senate both recently passed budget resolutions that contain reconciliation instructions to repeal the ACA and required the committees of jurisdiction to come up with a plan by the end of January. Congress was not able to comply with those instructions, but House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, recently stated that the House will begin voting on a replacement plan by early March. The House, given its wider majority than the Senate, will probably be able to easily pass a replacement bill, but the Senate remains more challenging. 

Some key senators, like Bill Cassidy, R-LA, and Susan Collins, R-ME, have signaled that there must be a viable replacement before repealing the ACA. Sens. Cassidy and Collins and Rep. Pete Session, R-TX, have introduced the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, which would repeal the individual and employer mandate, but maintain some of the insurance reforms in the ACA, such as eliminating pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance. The bill gives states the flexibility to devise their own plans, which would could include maintaining plans like the ones in the exchange under the ACA.

 Given that the Republican leadership has not yet unveiled an alternative to the ACA, and there does not seem to be consensus on the replacement, it will be interesting to see how Sen. Cassidy’s proposal will influence this process.

MACRA is Here to Stay
Despite the Republican goal of repealing Obamacare/ACA, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) is not on the repeal agenda. MACRA was passed by an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate and signed by President Obama. Both Republicans and Democrats have a vested interest in ensuring its success, and don’t have the political will to revisit this issue during the first year of implementation.

HHS Secretary nominee Tom Price, MD, was a key member of the House Ways and Means Committee during the drafting of MACRA. He played a key role in crafting the legislation and ensuring that physicians devise and craft quality measures and payment models that reflect their patient population. Implementing MACRA will be a key priority for Rep. Price, assuming he is confirmed.

So, despite the rumors that anything that Obama signed will be repealed, that is not true for MACRA. The MACRA trains will still be running on time so make sure you are ready. AGA is here to help.

First things first, make sure you submit your 2016 PQRS data, since that is due Feb. 28. If you are reporting PQRS quality data, you are ahead of the game and will be in good shape for 2017 MACRA reporting. You may even get a bonus.  

Review our MACRA resources to help you prepare for these changes and maximize your earning potential.

More on MACRA

QPP submission deadline quickly approaching

March 12, 2018

Act now: CMS offers two opportunities to avoid a payment penalty for the Quality Payment Program (QPP).

2017 MIPS Reporting Deadlines Approach in March

Feb. 16, 2018

CMS released a list of the top 10 things you need to do and know if you are an eligible clinician.

Attention Practices: Impacted by Major Weather Events in 2017?

Feb. 2, 2018

Medicare extends exceptions to additional MIPS-eligible clinicians affected by hurricanes and wildfires.