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CMS Requests Input on “New Direction” in Patient-Centered Care

The CMS Innovation Center is seeking public comment on how to reengineer Medicare and Medicaid to foster patient-centered care.

CMS and healthcare reform

Source: Thinkstock

By Jennifer Bresnick

- CMS officials have opened up an informal survey designed to collect public input on how the agency can take an innovative approach to fostering affordable, effective patient-centered care.

With a focus on value-based reimbursement structures like advanced alternative payment models (APMs), provider incentives, and consumer-directed care models, CMS hopes to take Medicare and Medicaid in a “new direction” that will prolong the financial sustainability of these public programs.

“One of the most important goals at CMS is fostering an affordable, accessible healthcare system that puts patients first,” CMS wrote.

“Through this informal Request for Information, the CMS Innovation Center is seeking your feedback on a new direction to promote patient-centered care and test market-driven reforms that empower beneficiaries as consumers, provide price transparency, increase choices and competition to drive quality, reduce costs, and improve outcomes.”

The survey was released in conjunction with a Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by CMS Administrator Seema Verma – and during the same week that Republican lawmakers are once again angling to push severe Medicaid spending cuts through the Senate, remove many consumer protections included in the Affordable Care Act, and alter the overarching structure of the insurance marketplace.

Verma, who along with HHS Secretary Tom Price have injected a distinctly partisan flavor into many of their public communications, called the Innovation Center “a powerful tool for improving quality and reducing costs.”

“This administration plans to lead the Innovation Center in a new direction,” Verma wrote. “We will move away from the assumption that Washington can engineer a more efficient health-care system from afar—that we should specify the processes health-care providers are required to follow.”

The article reiterates the need to move away from traditional fee-for-service reimbursement structures, which has long been a bipartisan principle guiding much of the nation’s healthcare reform efforts. 

Current HHS leaders believe the best way to craft a more affordable, innovative, and effective health system is by removing federal rules and guidelines, encouraging states to apply for waivers that meet their unique insurance market and care model needs, and encouraging consumers to make shrewd choices about personal spending.

“Providers need the freedom to design and offer new approaches to delivering care. Our goal is to increase flexibility by providing more waivers from current requirements,” Verma said.

“Consumers are a critical part of the health-care equation. We need to empower patients with information to seek value and quality as they shop for services. They also need incentives to be cost-conscious. Patients can define value better than the federal government can.”

CMS urges both individuals and organizations to respond to the survey, which can be completed anonymously.  The poll asks for comment on key issues including data and price transparency, payment waivers, incentive models for specialists, and prescription drug payment.

“There are a lot of great ideas, and we want to hear from people on the front lines,” Verma said. “No government agency has all of the answers, especially in an industry as large and multifaceted as health care.”

“We look forward to reviewing ideas and submissions and then launching transformative new models. Consumers need more control over the allocation of health-care resources. The models we launch within the Innovation Center will show us the path to achieving that vision.”

To participate in the CMS Innovation Center survey, please click here.

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