New Affordable Care Act Initiative Launched to Strengthen Primary Care

Primary care practices should be able to deliver higher quality, and more coordinated and patient-centered care, thanks to a new initiative unveiled by HHS.

Primary care practices should be able to deliver higher quality, and more coordinated and patient-centered care, thanks to a new initiative unveiled by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Under the new initiative, which is made possible by the Affordable Care Act, Medicare will work with commercial and state health insurance plans to offer additional support to primary care doctors who better coordinate care for their patients.

This collaboration, known as the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative, is modeled after innovative practices developed by large employers and leading private health insurers in the private sector.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we are helping primary care doctors better coordinate care with patients so they get better care and we use our health care dollars more wisely,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

“We know that when doctors have time to spend time with their patients and can better coordinate care with specialists, people are healthier and we have lower costs in the health care system,” said Donald Berwick, MD, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The voluntary initiative will begin as a demonstration project available in five to seven health care markets across the country. Public and private health care payers interested in applying to participate in the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative must submit a Letter of Intent by November 15, 2011. In the selected markets, Medicare and its partners will enroll interested primary care providers into the initiative.

Primary care practices that choose to participate in this initiative will be given support to better coordinate primary care for their Medicare patients. This support will help doctors:

• Help patients with serious or chronic diseases follow personalized care plans.

• Give patients 24-hour access to care and health information.

• Deliver preventive care.

• Engage patients and their families in their own care.

• Work together with other doctors, including specialists, to provide better coordinated care.

In addition to the usual Medicare fees that these practices would receive for delivering Medicare-covered services, CMS will pay primary care practices a monthly fee for these additional activities. According to HHS, this collaborative approach has the potential to strengthen the primary care system for all Americans and reduce health care costs by using resources more wisely and preventing disease before it happens.

SourceHHS Launches New Affordable Care Act Initiative to Strengthen Primary Care [HHS]