ATLANTA, April 28, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- "The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued its highly anticipated proposed rule on the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). MACRA replaces the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and represents a significant shift in how rheumatologists are reimbursed for the Medicare services they provide. Initial review of the proposed rule suggests that CMS has been listening to the rheumatology community's concerns about developing a value-based payment system that works to assist, and not hinder, the ability of rheumatologists to deliver high-quality care to Medicare patients living with rheumatic diseases.

"The importance of rheumatology care to our nation's Medicare program cannot be overstated. Rheumatic diseases are the nation's leading cause of disability and cost the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $128 billion annually. Given the growing demand for rheumatology care and the shortage of rheumatology specialists available to provide care to Medicare patients, it is imperative that the new payment system and reporting requirements be simple, transparent and tenable – especially for small and rural rheumatology providers. We are therefore encouraged to see that CMS has included provisions in the proposed rule that reduce quality reporting burdens, offer clarity on how to qualify for an Alternative Payment Model (APM), define the components of Merit-Based Incentive Programs (MIPs), encourage the use of Qualified Clinical Data Registries (QCDRs) such as the ACR's RISE registry, and provide some flexibility in terms of outcome measures.

"The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) will continue to review the proposed rule and submit detailed comments in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the ACR has developed a number of resources, available on our website, to help rheumatologists understand and prepare for MACRA. We will continue to update our members as new information becomes available.

"America's rheumatologists look forward to continued dialogue with CMS as it works to implement long-awaited and much-needed payment reform within the Medicare system."

The American College of Rheumatology is an international medical society representing over 9,400 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals with a mission to Advance Rheumatology! In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatologists are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases. For more information, visit

CONTACT:Jocelyn Givens 
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