The CMS’ Innovation Center debuts with four projects set to go
The CMS took its official first steps toward the agency’s goal of a coordinated healthcare system last week when it launched the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Established in this year’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (June 14, p. 6), the much-anticipated “Innovation Center,” as it’s being called, is meant to study new ways of delivering healthcare and paying providers that save money and improve quality simultaneously.
The new center is “a crosscutting resource to test change and accelerate progress in pursuing the goals of better care, better health and lower cost through improvement of care, focusing on individuals, integration of care and prevention,” CMS Administrator Donald Berwick wrote in Senate Finance Committee testimony for the record last week (See story, below). During his Senate committee appearance, Berwick said the Innovation Center is important because it will encourage local settings to devise the kind of coordinated care that works for them.
In an interview, Richard Gilfillan, the acting director of the center, talked about the organization as an explicit part of the Affordable Care Act, and said he thought Congress believed it was important to create an organization that was consistent with its vision of improving payment methodologies over time. “In the past, the cycle time had been slow—they felt that it was important to create a context and entity that would be more flexible and more nimble and help CMS and the federal government learn quicker,” Gilfillan said.
On a call with reporters, Gilfillan said work has already begun. “We’re not just in a planning process. As part of the launch, we’re announcing four projects that have great promise for patients.”
The first of these programs is a demonstration project to evaluate the effectiveness of physicians and other healthcare professionals working in a more integrated way and receiving payment from Medicare, Medicaid and private health plans. Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont were the eight states chosen to participate in the demonstration, which will include up to 1,200 medical homes serving up to 1 million Medicare beneficiaries.
The CMS also announced a demonstration to measure the effectiveness of professionals working in teams to treat low-income patients at federally qualified community health centers; the Innovation Center will conduct the demonstration in up to 500 of these facilities and provide coordinated care for up to 195,000 people with Medicare.
Medicaid as well as dual beneficiaries are the focus of the remaining two projects. The first, authorized by the Affordable Care Act, is a state plan option that would allow
Gilfillan: First four projects “have great promise for patients.”