Last week, with most of the industry’s attention focused on the activity and excitement surrounding the HIMSS annual conference in Chicago, our friends back in Washington, D.C. managed to make the biggest news of the week as the Senate, on Tuesday, voted to pass and the President, on Thursday, signed into law the “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.”

Now, while the law’s most immediate effect is to stave off a 21% reimbursement cut for Medicare physicians as a result of the repeal of the flawed sustainable growth rate formula (SGR), this bill is much, much more than just a permanent doc fix.  In fact, if you look at the 263-page bill itself, the provision repealing Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula takes up just one page!

Most important healthcare legislation since the 2010 ACA

As for the other 262 pages…they are full of important provisions affecting everything from the meaningful use program to the physician quality reporting system, physician value-based payment modifier, accountable care organizations, patient centered medical homes, bundled payment initiatives, quality measure development, chronic care management, interoperability, tele-health, remote patient monitoring, and more!  In fact, taken collectively, the provisions in this law will permanently change the way Medicare pays physicians in what is the most significant piece of healthcare legislation to come out of Congress since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.

What it means for providers and patients

So…what does this all mean for you, your practice, and your patients?  And furthermore, what do you need to be doing to prepare to not only survive, but thrive under this new law?

First, enjoy knowing that you’ll never again have to worry about Congress passing another doc fix in order to save your practice from a 20 or 30% Medicare reimbursement cut.  The SGR is gone.  Kiss it goodbye.

Second, educate yourself.  This law is vast and its effects will be widespread and long-lasting; so we all need to familiarize ourselves with its various provisions.  For starters, here’s a link to a great one-page summary of the bill provided by the Congressional Research Service.  For those feeling brave— or maybe just curious— here’s a link to the full text of the bill. There’s also an upcoming webinar, “More than a doc fix: The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015,” where I and other members of the NextGen Healthcare government and industry affairs team will walk you through the law and its most critical provisions.

And lastly, know you’re not alone.  We’re also not yet 100% sure how this new law is going to impact us and we know we’ll need to sort through thousands of pages of new regulations over the next several years to find out.  But, NextGen Healthcare is committed to being your partner on this journey in healthcare reform and, just as we tackled the HITECH Act and the ACA together, so shall we tackle this!