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D.C. Report: Beacons Turn 1, CMS Innovation Center Unveils New Payment Model Pilots

May 24, 2011
by Sharon Canner
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Sharon CannerSr. Director of Advocacy Programs

Spotlight Shown on Beacon Communities One-Year Anniversary. During a gathering at the Brookings Institution Tuesday, officials from the ONC, CMS, and the White House highlighted the one-year anniversary of the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program. Funded through a $250 million grant from the ONC, the Beacon Program selected 17 communities to demonstrate how health IT can serve as a foundation to improve the nation’s healthcare system. During the event, the ONC’s program director for Beacon, Aaron McKethan, said each community had to demonstrate the ability to build and strengthen local IT foundations to support broader healthcare capacity, while constructing an implementation framework that fosters innovation and continuous learning from early results. Eight of the 17 communities were on hand Tuesday in Washington to highlight their accomplishments and explain their plans for the next phase of the three-year program. One participate was Catherine Bruno, who is the executive sponsor of the Bangor Beacon Community and the vice president and CIO at Eastern Main Healthcare Systems. Ms. Bruno also serves as CIO Coordinator for CHIME’s StateNet and through the Beacon Program she is demonstrating ways to improve the health of patients with diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, and asthma by enhancing care management; improving access to, and use of, adult immunization data; and preventing unnecessary ED visits and re-admissions to hospitals using health IT. Please visit this website for a full listing of Beacon Communities and an overview of their quality, efficiency and health-related goals.

CMS Innovation Center Unveils New Payment Model Pilots, ACO Learning Sessions. In a move that was foreshadowed during Joe McCannon’s talking points at Brookings, CMS this week announced the launch of three initiatives designed to help hospitals and doctors navigate the path toward becoming an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). For those organizations who feel they are in a position to demonstrate accountable care ahead of final rules, the CMS Innovation Center (CMMI) is asking for applicants to join a Pioneer ACO Model–which will “consistent with, but be separate from the proposed Shared Savings Program.” This two-year program will allow applicants to receive a higher share of the savings, while also exposing them to a higher share of the risk, than the proposed three-year Shared Savings Program. Click here for more details.

The second announcement made by the Innovation Center was a call for comments regarding an ACO financing model called the Advanced Payment Initiative. The concept is that CMS could pay a portion of expected future savings to would-be ACOs to help them cover start-up costs. Advanced payments would be recouped through the ACO’s earned shared savings. Comments on whether and how a program such as this could work are due June 17. Finally, CMS has announced a series of Accelerated Development Learning Sessions devoted to core competencies for ACO development. Four such sessions will be held in 2011, the first of which is June 20-22 in Minneapolis, Minn. Click here for more details.