MACRA, Alternative Payment Models, and the Physician-Focused Payment Model: Implications for Radiology

J Am Coll Radiol. 2017 Jun;14(6):744-751. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2016.12.001. Epub 2017 Jan 26.


The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 describes alternative payment models (APMs) as new approaches to health care payment that incentivize higher quality and value. MACRA incentivizes increasing APM participation by all physician specialties over the coming years. Some APMs will be deemed Advanced APMs; clinicians who are a Qualifying Participant in an Advanced APM will receive substantial benefits under MACRA including an automatic 5% payment bonus, regardless of their performance and savings within the APM, and a larger payment rate increase beginning in 2026. Existing APMs are most relevant to primary care physicians, and opportunities for radiologists to participate in Advanced APMs fulfilling Qualified Participant requirements are limited. Physician-Focused Payment Models (PFPMs), as described in MACRA, are APMs that target physicians' Medicare payments based on quality and cost of physician services. PFPMs must address a new issue or specialty compared with existing APMs and will thus foster a more diverse range of APMs encompassing a wider range of specialties. The PFPM Technical Advisory Committee is a new independent agency that will review proposals for new PFPMs and provide recommendations to CMS regarding their approval. The PFPM Technical Advisory Committee comprises largely primary care physicians and health policy experts and is not required to consult clinical experts when reviewing new specialist-proposed PFPMs. As PFPMs provide a compelling opportunity for radiologists to demonstrate and be rewarded for their unique contributions toward patient care, radiologists should embrace this new model and actively partner with other stakeholders in developing radiology-relevant PFPMs.

Keywords: Health policy; alternative payment models; radiologists; radiology practice.

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees / organization & administration
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 / economics
  • Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Physician Incentive Plans / economics
  • Physician Incentive Plans / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Quality of Health Care / economics
  • Quality of Health Care / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Radiology / economics
  • Radiology / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States