The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it has released the comments submitted by patients, clinicians, innovators, and others in response to the CMS Innovation Center's New Direction Request for Information (RFI). Last fall, CMS released the RFI to collect ideas on a new direction for the agency's Innovation Center to promote patient-centered care and test market driven reforms that: empower beneficiaries as consumers, provide price transparency, increase choices and competition to drive quality, reduce costs, and improve outcomes. The Innovation Center is a central focus of the Administration's efforts to accelerate the move from a healthcare system that pays for volume to one that pays for value and encourages provider innovation.
CMS received over 1,000 responses to the RFI from a wide variety of individuals and organizations located across the country, including medical societies and associations, health systems, physician groups, and private businesses. Since the RFI comment period closed last November, CMS has been reviewing the responses, which provided valuable insight on the potential to improve existing models as well as ideas for transformative new models that aim to empower patients with more choices and better health outcomes.
"HHS has made shifting our healthcare system to one that pays for value one of our top four department priorities," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. "Using bold, innovative models in Medicare and Medicaid is a key piece of this effort. We value stakeholder input on the new direction for the Innovation Center, and look forward to engaging on especially promising, groundbreaking ideas such as direct provider contracting."
"We recognize that the best ideas don't come from Washington, so it's important that we hear from the front lines of our healthcare system about how we can improve care" said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "The responses from this RFI will help inform and drive our initiatives to transform the health care delivery system with the goal of improving quality of care while reducing unnecessary cost."
The responses focused on a number of areas that are critical to enhancing quality of care for beneficiaries and decreasing unnecessary cost, such as increased physician accountability for patient outcomes, improved patient choice and transparency, realigned incentives for the benefit of the patient, and a focus on chronically ill patients. In addition to the themes that emerged around the RFI's guiding principles and eight model focus areas, the comments received in response to the RFI also reflected broad support for reducing burdensome requirements and unnecessary regulations.
CMS is sharing the feedback received to promote transparency and facilitate further discussion of how to move the Innovation Center in a new direction. The RFI was a critical step in the model design process to ensure public input was available to help shape new models. Over the coming year, CMS will use the feedback as it works to develop new models, focusing on the eight focus areas outlined in the RFI.
CMS is also taking a next step to develop a potential model in the area of direct provider contracting, informed in part by the RFI. A direct provider contract model would allow providers to take further accountability for the cost and quality of a designated population in order to drive better beneficiary outcomes. Such a model would have the potential to enhance the doctor-patient relationship by eliminating administrative burden for clinicians and providing increased flexibility to provide the high-quality care that is most appropriate for their patients, thus improving quality while reducing expenditures.
As part of its process to gain further insight from the public in this area and ask more focused questions, CMS is issuing a follow up RFI. The information being requested is detailed in nature and is intended to provide CMS the data needed to potentially design and release a model in this area. CMS is excited to continue to evaluate the concept of direct provider contracting and is also focusing its attention on other areas guided by input and feedback from the New Direction RFI as well as the public.
The public comments that were received by the CMS Innovation Center in response to the New Direction RFI are available at: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/direction.
The Direct Provider Contracting RFI is available at: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/direct-provider-contracting/. Comments are due by 11:59 EDT on May 25, 2018.