News | Business | April 11, 2016

CMS Launches Largest-ever Multi-payer Initiative to Improve Primary Care

New Affordable Care Act initiative, designed to improve quality and cost, gives doctors and patients more control over healthcare delivery

CMS, Comprehensive Primary Care Plus model, CPC+, multi-payer initiative

April 11, 2016 — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its largest-ever initiative to transform and improve how primary care is delivered and paid for in America.

The effort, the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) model, will be implemented in up to 20 regions and can accommodate up to 5,000 practices, which would encompass more than 20,000 doctors and clinicians and the 25 million people they serve. The initiative is designed to provide doctors the freedom to care for their patients the way they think will deliver the best outcomes and to pay them for achieving results and improving care.

“Strengthening primary care is critical to an effective healthcare system,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS deputy administrator and chief medical officer. “By supporting primary care doctors and clinicians to spend time with patients, serve patients’ needs outside of the office visit, and better coordinate care with specialists we can continue to build a healthcare system that results in healthier people and smarter spending of our healthcare dollars. The Comprehensive Primary Care Plus model represents the future of healthcare that we’re striving towards.”

Building on the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative launched in late 2012, the five-year CPC+ model will benefit patients by helping primary care practices:

  • Support patients with serious or chronic diseases to achieve their health goals;
  • Give patients 24-hour access to care and health information;
  • Deliver preventive care;
  • Engage patients and their families in their own care; and
  • Work together with hospitals and other clinicians, including specialists, to provide better coordinated care.

Primary care practices will participate in one of two tracks. Both tracks will require practices to perform the functions and meet the criteria listed above, but practices in Track 2 will also provide more comprehensive services for patients with complex medical and behavioral health needs including, as appropriate, a systematic assessment of their psychosocial needs and an inventory of resources and supports to meet those needs.

CPC+ will help practices move away from one-size-fits-all, fee-for-service healthcare to a new system that will give doctors the freedom to deliver the care that best meets the needs of their patients. In Track 1, CMS will pay practices a monthly care management fee in addition to the fee-for-service payments under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for activities. In Track 2, practices will also receive a monthly care management fee and, instead of full Medicare fee-for-service payments for Evaluation and Management services, will receive a hybrid of reduced Medicare fee-for-service payments and up-front comprehensive primary care payments for those services. This hybrid payment design will allow greater flexibility in how practices deliver care outside of the traditional face-to-face encounter.

To promote high-quality and high-value care, practices in both tracks will receive up-front incentive payments that they will either keep or repay based on their performance on quality and utilization metrics. The payments under this model encourage doctors to focus on health outcomes rather than the volume of visits or tests.

Practices in both tracks also will receive data on cost and utilization. Optimal use of health information technology (IT) and a robust learning system will support them in making the necessary care delivery changes and using the data to improve their care of patients. Track 2 practices’ vendors will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CMS that outlines their commitment to supporting practices’ enhancement of health IT capabilities. These partnerships will be vital to practices’ success in the care delivery work and align with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT priority to ensure electronic health information is available when and where it matters to consumers and clinicians.

Under the CPC+ model, Medicare will partner with commercial and state health insurance plans to support primary care practices in delivering advanced primary care. Advanced primary care is a model of care with five key components:

  • Services are accessible, responsive to an individual’s preference, and patients can take advantage of enhanced in-person hours and 24/7 telephone or electronic access;
  • Patients at highest risk receive proactive, relationship-based care management services to improve outcomes;
  • Care is comprehensive and practices can meet the majority of each individual’s physical and mental healthcare needs, including prevention. Care is also coordinated across the healthcare system, including specialty care and community services, and patients receive timely follow-up after emergency room or hospital visits;
  • It is patient-centered, recognizing that patients and family members are core members of the care team, and actively engages patients to design care that best meets their needs; and
  • Quality and utilization of services are measured, and data is analyzed to identify opportunities for improvements in care and to develop new capabilities.

CMS will select regions for CPC+ where there is sufficient interest from multiple payers to support practices’ participation in the initiative. CMS will enter into an MOU with selected payer partners to document a shared commitment to align on payment, data sharing and quality metrics in CPC+.

CMS will accept payer proposals to partner in CPC+ from April 15 through June 1, 2016. CMS will accept practice applications in the determined regions from July 15 through Sept. 1, 2016.

For more information: www.innovation.cms.gov

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