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CMS Names Awardees of $5M Grant to Aid MACRA Implementation

The new CMS grant will provide up to $5 million over three years to two recipients who will assist providers with MACRA implementation.

By Nathan Boroyan

- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday announced two grant awardees who will receive up to $5 million to support providers with MACRA implementation.

CMS grant to support MACRA implemenation

The CMS funding is part of the second round of the Support and Alignment Networks (SANs) under the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI). The three-year award will be used to help primary and specialist care providers adopt Alternative Payment Models (APMs) that will further the healthcare industry's value-based care transition.

During the first year of the award, the recipients – Virginia Cardiac Services Quality Initiative and the American Psychological Association – will receive $670,673 and $723,600, respectively.

The Support and Alignment Networks 2.0 aims to enhance the expertise of the TCPI network and assist clinicians in preparation of the proposed Quality Payment Program (QPP).

"Through (TCPI), the Support and Alignment Network 2.0 awardees will identify, enroll, and provide tailored technical assistance to advanced clinician practices in an effort to reduce Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program expenditures by supporting practices through the phases of transformation and enhancing the quality, efficiency, and coordination of care they deliver," CMS stated in June.

APMs are central to the recently proposed rule for MACRA legislation, which establishes the QPP, said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in April.

The QPP is a framework for value-based reimbursement that includes two improvement tracks: the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models.

SANs 2.0 awardees will provide coaching and technical assistance to clinicians in an effort to help practices transition through five transformation phases, including:

  • Setting goals
  • Using data to drive care quality improvements
  • Achieving progress on aims
  • Achieving benchmark status
  • Thriving as a pay-for-value business

"This will ultimately position practices to successfully participate in Alternative Payment Models,” CMS says. "Critical to this approach is the capacity for these awardees to accurately identify large numbers of clinicians and practices in advanced states of readiness through sound data analytics capabilities, to enroll them into the Support and Alignment 2.0 network, to provide them with tailored technical assistance, and to help them determine the most suitable Alternative Payment Model options."

CMS also notes that technical assistance and support provided by SANs 2.0 awardees should be tailored to the needs of individual clinicians and practices.

  • Participation in the model requires awardees to commit to:
  • Provide quality improvement support to 5,000 of more clinicians
  • Provide support to a multi-regional or national learning network
  • Collaborate to generate evidence-based guidelines for clinical practices
  • Measuring effectiveness through clinical registries and electronic health records
  • Improve safety patient safety and engagement

The SANs 2.0 performance period extends from September 2016 through September 2019 and includes three 12-month budget periods.

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