September 4, 2019
In the emerging days of Value-Based Health Care (VBHC), “value” was defined by quality, cost, and experience of health care for patients—the “Triple Aim.” The movement’s initial defining goal: patients should be able to access high value health care services that improved outcomes, to get value for their dollars. Likewise, employers and other purchasers deserved similar value for their share of investment in health care benefit plans. Because incentives inherent in insurance and Fee-for-Service (FFS) payment systems reward volume over value, however, VBHC has also had a subagenda to make value pay for providers. But to reward better value instead,…Read More
August 28, 2019
How Should Primary Care-Centric Physician Practices Choose A Path to Risk?
It’s an urgent question for most practices: How should physicians participate in value-based reimbursement? Traditional Medicare is moving assertively to physician payment models that include capitation and ceilings on spending, with revenue risk tied to patient care costs. Without a doubt, primary care practices are bearing the brunt of risk-based reimbursement. With the exception of specialty-aimed Bundled Payments, most payment models are primary care-centric. Patient costs are grouped and then attributed to their primary care physicians—regardless of whether the services were provided by those physicians or by specialists and hospitals—and those PCPs are then rewarded or penalized under various risk…Read More
August 14, 2019
Five Actions ACOs Should Take Now: Takeaways from Proposed CMS Rulemaking
Last week CMS released a proposed rule addressing revisions in the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP), along with a few other matters. Of 1,704 pages, only about 20 addressed ACOs issues directly. But ACOs should take a holistic approach to reading this proposed rule, as well as the proposed Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) rule. Competition Among Risk Models Will Strongly Affect the Course of Change With so many CMS programs and models now in flux, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It’s worth the effort to pay attention to the…Read More
July 24, 2019
Can ACOs Survive the Complicated New Landscape in Medicare Risk?
What a difference a year makes. In Spring 2018, many Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) pondered a walkout over Medicare plans that included downside risk in ACO financials. Nonetheless, CMS finalized its plans to make provider risk a reality for all ACOs in its Pathways to Success overhaul of the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). ACOs’ lukewarm reception to the goal of compelled savings, however, was not forgotten. Fast forward to April 2019, when CMS announced five Primary Care Models to propel physician groups to adopt risk-based reimbursement directly—including capitation. Those models are now under fast-paced implementation, with application deadlines approaching.…Read More
July 10, 2019
Can Medicare Primary Care Risk Models Work in Today’s Practice Environment?
There’s now no doubt that Medicare is eager to move forward with Value-Based Health Care and risk-based reimbursement. CMS has rolled out major changes to make Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) risk-bearing and add attractive benefits to capitated Medicare Advantage plans. Add to that two new classes of Primary Care Risk Models that introduce risk-based reimbursement into the general provider population, which, CMS says, are designed to stimulate primary care: Primary Care First (PCF) and Direct Contracting (DC). But we also know, from early CMS statements on direct contracting, that it intended to find other mechanisms to move physicians into Value-Based Health…Read More
May 22, 2019
Can Provider Risk Cure High Medical Costs?
Fee-for-Service (FFS) has been on a slow march toward risk-based reimbursement for two decades. But FFS has proven to be remarkably resilient—until now. In the last six months, Medicare has doubled down on creating new provider risk models for ACOs, specialists and primary care physicians. All of them have methods to ensure that providers are held accountable for medical expenditure targets. Wait. Haven’t we been here before? What‘s different between now and the 1980s, when HMOs and provider risk first prevailed in the market—and then were purged as both ineffective and unpopular? Is provider risk a cure for high medical…Read More
May 8, 2019
How Will New Primary Care Models Affect Providers in VBHC?
Embraced by some provider groups and disparaged by others, CMS’s five new payment models for practices focused on primary care include much to consider. All reflect a key departure of Medicare’s Value-Based Health Care (VBHC) efforts to date: they are direct efforts by Medicare to transition physician practice revenues to risk without the necessity of ACO participation. The primary care models will affect both providers and patients. In this article, we’ll address the provider issues. How patient choice of care and outcomes for patients and patient populations will be affected deserves dedicated scrutiny in a future post. No Surprise that…Read More
April 17, 2019
Bootstrapped ACOs Facing Risk? Adopt Cost Strategies With Long Term RoI
The experimental phase of Medicare ACOs has been officially declared dead, per CMS. Going forward, ACOs must agree to take on financial risk for expenditures beyond their targets. That’s sobering news for the majority of ACOs still struggling to succeed. The reality is that most ACOs are bootstrapped—light on extra funding and dependent on existing tools to do more. In fact, about two-thirds of ACOs report that funding is their most significant challenge. And that is probably understated, since patient engagement problems (also reported by two-thirds of ACOs) and lack of data (reported by 40 percent) are remedied by solutions…Read More
March 13, 2019
Women’s Health Research Needs an Infusion: How Health Systems and ACOs Should Help Correct Gender Disparities
Women receive health care that is below par, and the consequences are unnecessary morbidity and death. It is fact, not fiction—borne out by significant data that reveal disparities across many major conditions—that inattention to women’s unique symptoms, risk factors, disease biology and treatment effects are causing harm to women. Despite the reality, a poor body of research exists to point women’s health in the right direction. Value-Based Health Care (VBHC) assumes that we can measure providers’ delivery of health care against clinical standards. What if we don’t even know how half the population exhibits disease or responds to therapies? At…Read More
February 20, 2019
Providers, Take Note: Prepare for the Future Health Care of Older Women
Our review of women’s health care has called attention to disparities in risk factors and biological disease differences, treatment variances, and lack of adequate research. Gender and race have obscured perceptions of women’s symptoms, creating delays in diagnoses and treatments and even early death. A serious gap in gender-specific research and gender-analyzed data contributes to this profound lack of understanding of differential biology and treatment options. Even for conditions that are more specific to women, such as breast cancer and maternity, clinical care and research funding is heavy on front-end detection and prevention but fails to focus on women at…Read More