Weekly Messages From MHA

Weekly Message From MHA

A Foundation for Success

July 13, 2018 By: Bob Atlas

It’s been a noteworthy week for the Maryland Model, kicking off with a contract signing ceremony on Monday that featured Maryland’s top political dignitaries, along with CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

“Transformation can’t stop at the hospital walls,” Verma said Monday with more than a dozen hospital executives looking on. “The objective is clear: The state will continue to bring all Medicare costs down while improving quality of care.”

I was privileged to speak at the event on behalf of Maryland’s hospitals and health systems. My message emphasized the importance of having strong collaboration with non-hospital providers, government agencies and others to control the total cost of care.

While the goals may be evident, the precise path to achieve them is less clear. No doubt hospitals will draw on the lessons they learned about reducing hospital utilization under the All-Payer Model in order to hold costs in check in non-hospital settings. There will be no shortage of experimentation in search of the best outcomes.

This is why the care redesign tools that have been developed, and others that will manifest along the way, are so critical.

Already, good progress has been made for hospitals to begin using these tools.

The third performance period of the Care Redesign Program began on July 1, with 42 hospitals signing on to participate in one of the two voluntary, hospital-led programs: the Hospital Care Improvement Program for hospital-based physicians and the Complex and Chronic Care Improvement Program for community-based providers. A third program, the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement in Maryland was approved by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation on July 5, 2018, one month after submission. This new track, a recommendation of the MHA-convened Stakeholder Innovation Group, is expected to launch January 1, 2019, when an analogous program will be available nationally.

The Maryland Primary Care Program, designed to encourage physicians to deliver value-driven care, is also ramping up. Application deadlines are in July for Care Transformation Organizations and August for primary care practices. CMMI will issue decisions about acceptance in the late summer and fall.

With the pomp and circumstance of the signing ceremony behind us, the hard work now begins. It’s clear that that Maryland’s health care providers recognize both the enormity of the task laid before them and the promise the new model holds to fundamentally improve the health of all Marylanders.