Medicolegal Issues

Opportunity to Partner in Improving Care: The Medicare Chronic Care improvement Programs


 

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) authorized development and testing of voluntary programs focused on improving the quality of care and quality of life for beneficiaries with multiple chronic illnesses. These Chronic Care Improvement Programs (CCIPs) represent the first large-scale chronic care improvement initiative under the Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) program. The programs also may represent an opportunity for SHM members to partner with the selected organizations.

CMS selected organizations that will offer self-care guidance and support to chronically ill beneficiaries. These organizations will help beneficiaries manage their health, adhere to their physicians’ plans of care, and assure that they seek or obtain medical care as needed to reduce their health risks. Chronic conditions are currently a leading cause of illness, disability, and death among beneficiaries and account for a disproportionate share of health care expenditures.

Each selected organization may design its own program, with the potential for a variety of unique models. Some vendors are partnering with physician groups and others may reach out to physicians in their regions. The selected regions and respective vendors are:

  • Brooklyn and Queens in New York City (Visiting Nurse Service of New York in partnership with United-Healthcare Services, Inc.–Evercare)
  • Chicago (Aetna Health Management)
  • District of Columbia and Maryland (American Healthways, Inc.)
  • Central Florida (Humana, Inc.)
  • Georgia (CIGNA HealthCare)
  • Mississippi (McKesson Health Solutions)
  • Oklahoma (LifeMasters Supported SelfCare, Inc.)
  • Pennsylvania (Health Dialog Services Corporation)
  • Tennessee (XLHealth)

Performance-based contracting is one of the most important features of the CCIP design. The CCIPs will be paid based on achieving measurable improvements in clinical and financial outcomes, as well as satisfaction levels across their assigned populations. Payment is not based on services provided. CCIP organizations will be paid monthly fees, but those fees will be fully at risk. The organizations will be required to refund some or all of their fees to the federal government if they do not meet agreed-upon standards for quality improvement, savings to Medicare, and increased beneficiary satisfaction levels.

Phase I programs will collectively serve 150,000 to 300,000 chronically ill beneficiaries who are enrolled in traditional fee-for-service Medicare. This is the phase currentlyunder development, with the first programs expected to begin implementation in spring 2005. The programs are intended to help increase adherence to evidence-based care, reduce unnecessary hospital stays and emergency room visits, and help beneficiaries avoid costly and debilitating complications and comorbidities. With attention to reducing hospital costs, hospitalists may play an important role in CCIPs.

CCIPs include collaboration with participants’ providers to improve communication regarding relevant clinical information. The programs are being designed to assist beneficiaries in managing all of their health problems (not just a single disease). The programs to be tested vary in types of interventions to be used to improve outcomes. Across all programs, payments will be based on performance results.

Patient participation will be entirely voluntary. Eligible beneficiaries do not have to change plans or providers to participate, and there is no charge to the beneficiaries to participate. Once the program begins, beneficiaries may stop participating at any time. These programs may not restrict access to care. CMS will use historical claims data to identify beneficiaries by geographic area and screen them for eligibility. The selected beneficiaries will be assigned randomly to either an intervention group or a control group. Those in the intervention group will be notified of the opportunity to participate via a letter from the Medicare program. The letter will describe the CCIP and give the beneficiary the opportunity to decline to participate.

Phase II, which is the expansion of successful CCIPs, may begin within 2 to 31/2 years after Phase I. Entire CCIPs, or components of programs, may be expanded either regionally or nationally. SHM will continue to track the progress of the CCIPs and to encourage members to participate in the development and implementation of this exciting new chapter of Medicare services.

Please check the list above. If you are interested in partnering with any of the organizations, please email Lillian Higgins at lhiggins@hospitalistmedicine.org. She will provide you with contact information for the CCIP vendor.

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