CMMI drops program on improving care for the seriously ill

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation pulled a program intended to improve care coordination for seriously ill Medicare patients, saying it wouldn’t be able to enroll enough beneficiaries in the model to adequately test it.

The component was part of the Primary Care First model, a voluntary payment model meant to encourage primary care practices to deliver additional care, like around-the-clock access to a clinical call line, integrate behavioral healthcare and better engage with patients and caregivers.

The seriously ill population component aimed to improve care for beneficiaries with serious conditions but no primary care doctors. The component would have given practices with clinicians who provide hospice or palliative care services opportunities to coordinate care for beneficiaries with additional health needs.

The agency accepted applications for the model component but never launched it. The innovation center paused the seriously ill population component in the spring to review it, and officially withdrew the element on Tuesday.

The review determined that the component’s method for reaching out to beneficiaries wouldn’t attract enough participants, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in an email update.

“The Innovation Center is committed to testing interventions focused on improving care for seriously ill beneficiaries. As part of the Innovation Center’s strategy refresh, we will be exploring additional ways to serve these beneficiaries, whether through existing models or new model opportunities. We look forward to providing more information when available,” CMS said.

LeadingAge, the association for non-profit aging services providers, said it plans to continue talking with CMMI about how to improve end-of-life care and care for chronic conditions.

“This announcement will be disappointing to a number of LeadingAge members who were preparing to participate in the model either directly or through subcontracting relationships with participating primary care practices,” a post on its website said.

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