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CMS Announces New Funding Opportunity for Accountable Health Communities Model

September 14, 2016
by Heather Landi
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With a focus on addressing the health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced modifications to its Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model to make it more accessible to a broader set of applicants.

In January 2016, CMS released a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for its AHC Model.

According to Patrick Conway, M.D., principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer for CMS, this is the first Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) model to focus on the health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. “Many of these social issues, such as housing instability, hunger, and interpersonal violence, affect individuals’ health, yet they are rarely, if ever, detected or addressed during typical health care-related visits. The AHC Model is based on emerging evidence that addressing health-related social needs through enhanced clinical-community linkages can improve health outcomes and reduce costs,” Conway wrote in a CMS blog post.

The original FOA requested applicants for three different scalable tracks featuring interventions of varying intensity that would address health-related social needs for beneficiaries. According to Conway, CMS received significant interest, inquiries and stakeholder feedback about the AHC Model and has decided to modify the application requirements for Track 1 and has released a new FOA specific to Track 1 of the AHC Model. “CMS believes two key modifications to Track 1 will make the model more accessible to a broader set of applicants,” Conway wrote.

CMS has made two key modifications—reduced the annual number of beneficiaries applicants are required to screen from 75,000 to 53,000 and increased the maximum funding amount per award recipient from $1 million to $1.17 million over five years.

According to Conway, Track 1 will support bridge organizations that are working to increase a patient’s awareness of available community services through screening, information dissemination, and referral. “Track 1 award recipients will partner with the state Medicaid agency, community service providers and clinical delivery sites to implement the model,” he wrote.

Conway also noted that the AHC Model complements CMS’ growing focus on population health by providing the necessary tools and support for a successful transition to a holistic health system.

CMS is accepting applications from community-based organizations, health care practices, hospitals and health systems, institutions of higher education, local government entities, tribal organizations, and for-profit and non-for- profit local and national entities with the capacity to develop and maintain relationships with clinical delivery sites and community service providers.  Applicants from all 50 states, U.S. Territories, or the District of Columbia (D.C.) may apply.

According to Conway, applicants, including those who applied to Tracks 1, 2 or 3 in the previous FOA, are eligible to apply to this FOA. Applicants that previously applied to Track 1 of the AHC Model under the original FOA must re-apply using this FOA to be considered for the Model.

Applications for the AHC model for Track 1 can be submitted at www.grants.gov and the deadline is November 3, 2016.

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