HHS Funds Training for Small Practices

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Over the last few weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made several announcements related to the Quality Payment Program, which has been proposed to implement the new, bipartisan law changing how Medicare pays clinicians, known as the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, or MACRA. HHS recently announced $20 million to fund on-the-ground training and education for Medicare clinicians in individual or small group practices of 15 clinicians or fewer.

According to a press release from HHS, these funds will help provide hands-on training tailored to small practices, especially those that practice in historically under-resourced areas including rural areas, health professional shortage areas, and medically underserved areas.

“Doctors and healthcare providers in small and rural practices are critical to our goal of building a healthcare system that works for everyone,” said Secretary Burwell. “Supporting local healthcare providers with the resources and information necessary for them to provide quality care is a top priority for this administration.”

As required by MACRA, HHS will continue to award $20 million each year over the next five years, providing $100 million in total to help small practices successfully participate in the Quality Payment Program. In order to receive funding, organizations must demonstrate their ability to strategically provide customized training to clinicians. And, most importantly, these organizations will provide education and consultation about the Quality Payment Program at no cost to the clinician or their practice.

“The bipartisan MACRA legislation gave us the tools to improve Medicare and make it modern and sustainable by improving the incentives for and lowering the burden on clinicians,” said Patrick Conway, acting principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Real change must start from the ground up, and today’s announcement recognizes this reality by  getting doctors the resources they need to provide better, smarter care.”

Organizations receiving the funding would support small practices by helping them think through what they need to be successful under the Quality Payment Program, such as what quality measures and/or electronic health record (EHR) may be appropriate for their practices’ needs. Organizations would also train clinicians about the new clinical practice improvement activities and how these new activities could fit into their practices’ workflow, or help practices evaluate their options for joining an Alternative Payment Model.

Awardees will be announced by November 2016. HHS encourages all qualified organizations to apply for this funding.

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