New Affordable Care Act Initiative to Encourage Better Oncology Care
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced a new multi-payer payment and care delivery model to support better care coordination for cancer care as part of the Department€s ongoing efforts to improve the quality of care patients receive and spend health care dollars more wisely, contributing to healthier communities. The initiative will include 24-hour access to practitioners for beneficiaries undergoing treatment and an emphasis on coordinated, person-centered care, aimed at rewarding value of care, rather than volume.
Cancer is one of the most common and devastating diseases in the United States: more than 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year in this country. According to the National Institutes of Health, cancer cost the United States an estimated $263.8 billion in medical costs and lost productivity in 2010. A majority of those diagnosed are over 65 years old and Medicare beneficiaries.
“Based on feedback from the medical, consumer and business communities, we are launching this new model of care to support clinicians’ work with their patients,” added Dr. Conway. “We aim to provide Medicare beneficiaries struggling with cancer with high-quality care around the clock and to reward doctors for the value, not volume, of care they provide. Improving the way we pay providers and deliver care to patients will result in healthier people.”
As part of the Department’s “better care, smarter spending, healthier people” approach to improving health delivery, the Oncology Care Model is one of many innovative payment and care delivery models developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center and advanced by the Affordable Care Act. The model was created in response to feedback from the oncology community, patient advocates, and the private sector that a new way of paying for and delivering oncology care is needed. This model will invest in physician-led practices, allowing the practices to innovate and deliver higher-quality care to their patients. CMS is seeking the participation of other payers in the model to leverage the opportunity to transform care for oncology patients across a broader population.
The Oncology Care Model encourages participating practices to improve care and lower costs through episode-based, performance-based payments that financially incentivize high-quality, coordinated care. Participating practices will also receive monthly care management payments for each Medicare fee-for-service beneficiary during an episode to support oncology practice transformation, including the provision of comprehensive, coordinated patient care.
To achieve better care, smarter spending and healthier people, HHS is focused on three key areas: (1) linking payment to quality of care, (2) improving and innovating in care delivery, and (3) sharing information more broadly to providers, consumers, and others to support better decisions while maintaining privacy. Today’s news comes on the heels of Secretary Burwell’s recent announcement that HHS is setting measurable goals and a timeline to move Medicare toward paying providers based on the quality, rather than the quantity of care they give patients.
“With the Oncology Care Model, CMS has the opportunity to achieve three goals in the care of this medically complex population who are facing a cancer diagnosis: better care, smarter spending, and healthier people,” said Dr. Conway. “As a practicing physician and son of a Medicare beneficiary who died from cancer, I know the importance of well-coordinated care focused on the patient’s needs.”
The Oncology Care Model will provide support for participating physician practices to address the complex care needs of the beneficiary population receiving chemotherapy treatment and will reward practices that focus on furnishing services that specifically improve the patient experience and health outcomes.
Physician group practices and solo practitioners that provide chemotherapy for cancer and are currently enrolled in Medicare may apply to participate. Other payers, including commercial insurers, Medicare Advantage plans, state programs, and Medicaid managed care plans, are also encouraged to apply. To be considered, interested payers must submit a letter of intent through the Oncology Care Model inbox at OncologyCareModel@cms.hhs.gov by 5:00 p.m., EDT on March 19, 2015. Interested practices must submit letters of intent by 5:00 p.m., EDT on April 23, 2015. Payers and practices that submit a timely letter of intent will be sent an authenticated web link and password with which to submit an electronic application. Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m., EDT on June 18, 2015.
For more information on the Oncology Care Model, please visit: http://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Oncology-Care/.
The Innovation Center was created by the Affordable Care Act to test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce CMS program expenditures while preserving or enhancing the quality of care for CMS beneficiaries. The Innovation Center is committed to transforming the Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs and is expected to help deliver better care for individuals, better health for populations, and lower growth in expenditures for Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries.