Archive for the ‘Healthcare Reform’ Category

In Successful ACOs, Population Health Focus Paves Way for Shared Savings Payouts

January 25th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

Physician practices toiling in fledgling ACOs and obsessing over shared savings that have not yet materialized, take heart: population health offers multiple revenue streams for accountable care organizations waiting for the “gravy” of accountable care.

“Gravy” is the way Tim Gronniger, senior vice president of development and strategy for Caravan Health, refers to ACO shared savings payouts, which he says can take considerable time to accrue.

“It is literally two years from the time you jump into an ACO before you have even the chance of a shared savings payout,” Gronniger told participants in Generating Population Health Revenue: ACO Best Practices for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success, a January 2018 webcast now available for replay.

Obsessing over shared savings is one of the biggest mistakes hospitals in ACOs can make, he added.

This delay is one reason Caravan Health urges its ACOs to adopt a population health focus, whether pursuing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Payment Program (QPP) Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

Gronniger’s advice is predicated on his organization’s experience of mentoring 38 ACOs. In 2016, Caravan Health’s ACOs saved more than $26 million in the MSSP program and achieved higher than average quality scores and quality reporting scores, according to recently released CMS data.

Walking attendees through a MACRA primer, Gronniger underscored the challenges of the MIPS program, one of three tracks offered under the Quality Payment Program. “Barring a really exceptional performance on MIPS, you can’t even break even over the next few years on physician compensation,” he said.

In the meantime, ACOs should utilize recently rolled out Medicare billing codes, from the annual wellness visit (AWV) to advanced care planning, to generate wellness revenue. With proper planning, reengineering of staffing and clinical work flows, a practice could generate anywhere from five hundred to one thousand dollars annually per eligible Medicare patient, Gronniger estimates—monies that offset the cost of constructing a sustainable ACO business model.

To back up this population health rationale, Gronniger pointed to data from an ACO client demonstrating the impact of a cohesive PHM approach, including the use of trained population health nurses, on completion rates for preventive screenings. For less top-of-mind screenings like falls assessment and smoking cessation, completion rates rose from negligible to near-universal levels, he said.

“These are recommended sets of screens that are required by CMS, but that also help ACOs with quality measures,” he added.

Gronniger also shared examples of dashboards, scorecards and roadmaps Caravan Health employs to help keep client ACOs on track. An ACO success strategy involves “a lot of dashboarding, checking in, and discussion of problems and barriers, discussion of solutions, and monthly and quarterly measurement and reporting back,” he said.

Beyond coveted shared savings, ACO participation offers significant non-financial benefits, including quality improvements under both MSSP and MIPS standards, availability of ACO-specific waivers, and access to proprietary performance data.

Overall, ACO participation can make providers more attractive both to commercial contractors and to potential patients perusing Physician Compare ratings in greater numbers.

Gronniger ended by weighing in on the recent recommendation by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to repeal and replace the MIPS program.

Assessing MIPS’ Fate: “MedPAC Vote Would Not Affect 2018 Under Any Scenario”

January 18th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

Tim Gronniger

Tim Gronniger, Senior VP of Development and Strategy, Caravan Health

Amidst healthcare provider outcry over last week’s vote by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to repeal and replace the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), an industry thought leader sought to remind physician groups that no change to MIPS is imminent.

“MedPAC is an advisory body, not a legislative one,” said Tim Gronniger, senior vice president of development and strategy for Caravan Health, a provider solutions for healthcare organizations interested in value-based payment models, including accountable care organizations (ACOs).

“Congress would need to adopt MedPAC’s recommendations in order for the changes to go into effect. It is reasonable to expect MIPS to evolve over time, but that evolution will be gradual. [MedPAC’s vote on MIPS] would not affect 2018 under any scenario.”

Gronniger made his comments during Generating Population Health Revenue: ACO Best Practices for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success, a January 2018 webcast sponsored by the Healthcare Intelligence Network and now available for rebroadcast.

Earlier this month, MedPAC voted 14-2 to scrap the MIPS program, describing it in a presentation to members as “burdensome and complex.” According to the advisory commission, “MIPS will not succeed in helping beneficiaries choose clinicians, helping clinicians change practice patterns to improve value, or helping the Medicare program to reward clinicians based on value.”

MedPAC is expected to pass this recommendation along to Congress in coming months, along with a proposed alternative. In MIPS’s place, MedPAC is suggesting a voluntary value program (VVP) in which “group performance will be assessed using uniform population-based measures in the categories of clinical quality, patient experience, and value.”

MGMA’s Anders Gilberg reacts to the MedPAC ruling.

Among the provider groups reacting to MedPAC’s actions was the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). In a Twitter post, Anders Gilberg, MGMA’s senior vice president for government affairs, called the VVP alternative “a poor replacement,” claiming it “would conscript physician groups into virtual groups and grade them on broad claims-based measures.”

The day prior to the January 11 vote, MGMA had reached out in a letter to Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), requesting CMS to immediately release 2018 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) eligibility information, which it called “vital to the complex clinical and administrative coordination necessary to participate in MIPS.”

2018 Success Strategy: Differentiate to Survive Next Wave of Healthcare

January 5th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

Are supermarkets the next wave of healthcare?

Perhaps not, but if a health insurer can move into the community pharmacy, why not the local grocery store?

On the heels of the recent non-traditional CVS Health-Aetna merger and amidst other swirling consolidation rumors, industry thought leaders are encouraging healthcare organizations to embrace similar partnerships and synergies.

And given the presence of pharmacies inside many supermarkets, “there is potential for greater synergies around what we eat, what we buy and how our healthcare is actually purchased or delivered,” suggests David Buchanan, president of Buchanan Strategies.

“The bonanza [from this merger] might be where data can be shared between CVS’s customers and Aetna’s customers and whether we can steer those CVS customers to Aetna,” he added.

Buchanan and Brian Sanderson, managing principal of healthcare services for Crowe Horwath, sketched a roadmap to help healthcare providers and payors navigate the key trends, challenges and opportunities that beckon in 2018 during Trends Shaping the Healthcare Industry in 2018: A Strategic Planning Session, a December 2017 webinar now available for rebroadcast.

Key guideposts on the road to success: data analytics, consolidation, population health management, patient and member engagement, and telemedicine, among other indicators. Also, organizations shouldn’t hesitate to test-drive new roles in order to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

“If you are not differentiated, you will not survive in what is a very fluid marketplace,” Sanderson advised.

Honing in on the healthcare provider perspective, Sanderson posed five key questions to help shape physician, hospital and health system strategies, including, “What are the powerful patterns?” Industry mergers, an infusion of private equity money into areas like ambulatory care and emerging value-based payment models fall into this category, he suggested.

These patterns were echoed in four primary trends Sanderson outlined as shaping the direction of the healthcare market, which faces an increasingly “impatient” patient. “I could tell you the market wants care everywhere,” he said. “In the same way we have become impatient with our commoditized goods, so have patients become impatient with accessing care.”

Among these trends are “unclear models of reimbursement,” he noted, adding that after a self-imposed “pause” relative to healthcare reimbursement at the start of a new presidential administration, the industry is ready to “restart with some new sponsors now.”

Notably, Sanderson advised providers to embrace population management. “Don’t think population health, think population management. It’s no longer just the clinical aspects of a patient’s or a population’s health. It’s the overall management of their well-being.”

Following Sanderson’s five winning strategies for healthcare provider success, David Buchanan outlined his list of hot-button items for insurers, which ranged from the future of Obamacare and member engagement to telemedicine, healthcare payment costs and models and trends in Medicare and Medicaid.

Healthcare payors should not underestimate the value of engaging its members, who today possess higher levels of health literacy, he stated. “The member must be an integral part of healthcare transactions, as are the provider, the facility and the insurer. The member must have a greater level of personal responsibility and engagement in the process.”

Offering members wearable health technologies like fitness trackers is one way insurers might engage individuals in their health while creating ‘stickiness’ and member allegiance to the health plan.

Telemedicine, the fastest growing healthcare segment, is another means of extending payors’ reach and increasing profitability, he adds. “Telemedicine is not just for rural health settings anymore, but is finding another subset of adopters among people who can’t fit a doctor’s visit into their busy schedule.”

Payors should expect some competition in this area. “I believe the next wave [of telehealth] will be hospitals expanding into local telehealth services as a lead-in to their local clinics,” Buchanan predicted.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in healthcare is growing, but Buchanan and Sanderson agree that adoption will be slow. On the other hand, expect more collaboration between digital players like Amazon, Google and Apple and larger health plans.

“You will see [synergies] when you can put those two players together: the company that can bring the technology to the table as well as those companies that bring the users to the table,” concluded Buchanan.

Listen to a HIN HealthSounds podcast in which David Buchanan predicts the future of mega mergers in healthcare, the impact of the CVS-Aetna alliance on brand awareness, and the real ‘bonanza’ of the $69 billion partnership, beyond bringing healthcare closer to home for many consumers.

Infographic: 2018 Healthcare Outlook

December 29th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Hospitals have experienced improvements in uncompensated care revenue due to the Affordable Care Act. But reform and economic uncertainty are creating a perfect storm that could erase this momentum, according to a new infographic by Navigant.

The infographic examines the factors that could reverse the improvements in uncompensated care and what this means for hospitals and health systems.

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2018: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare IndustryGiven the powerful patterns disrupting healthcare, what will it take to succeed as a high-velocity healthcare organization in 2018?

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2018: Performance Expectations for the Healthcare Industry, HIN’s 14th annual business forecast, is designed to support healthcare C-suite planning as leaders react to presidential priorities and seek new strategies for engaging providers, patients and health plan members in value-based care.

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Infographic: Three Roads to Universal Healthcare Coverage

November 13th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

There are a number of different paths to universal healthcare coverage, from government-financed and -run approaches to largely employer-financed systems administered by insurance companies, according to a new infographic by The Commonwealth Fund.

The infographic examines three of these paths.

Trends Shaping the Healthcare Industry in 2018: A Strategic Planning SessionUncertainty regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), combined with industry market forces, including consolidations and strategic partnerships, positioning for value-based healthcare, cost containment efforts, an emphasis on technology and efforts to understand and address the whole patient as part of population health management have been the key drivers in the healthcare industry this year.

With the efforts to repeal and replace the ACA now focused on the elimination of the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers and changes to regulations governing association health plans, short-term, limited-duration insurance and health reimbursement arrangements, the healthcare industry can put aside the uncertainty of this year and move forward with the market forces in play.

During Trends Shaping the Healthcare Industry in 2018: A Strategic Planning Session, a 60-minute webinar on December 7th, two industry thought leaders Cynthia Kilroy, principal at Cynthia Kilroy Consulting and Brian Sanderson, managing principal, healthcare services, Crowe Horwath, will provide a roadmap to the key issues, challenges and opportunities for healthcare organizations in 2018.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

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Infographic: The ACA’s Innovation Waiver Program

November 10th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states can pursue “innovation waivers,” sometimes known as 1332 waivers, as of 2017. These waivers allow states to modify key parts of the law, so long as they stay true to its goals and consumer protections, according to a new infographic by the Commonwealth Fund.

The infographic provides a state-by-state look at innovation wavers.

Care Coordination of Highest-Risk Patients: Business Case for Managing Complex Populations Asked by its C-suite to quantify contributions of its multidisciplinary care team for its highest-risk patients, AltaMed Health Services Corporation readily identified seven key performance metrics associated with the team. Having demonstrated the team’s bottom line impact on specialty costs, emergency room visits, and HEDIS® measures, among other areas, the largest independent federally qualified community health center (FQHC) was granted additional staff to expand care management for its safety net population.

The Care Coordination of Highest-Risk Patients: Business Case for Managing Complex Populations chronicles AltaMed’s four-phase rollout of care coordination for dual eligibles—a population with higher hospitalization and utilization and care costs twice those of any other population served by AltaMed.

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Infographic: The Impact of Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments on Insurance Markets

November 6th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The loss of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments in the health insurance marketplaces would destabilize insurance markets and add to the federal deficit, according to a new infographic by NEJM Catalyst.

The infographic examines the impact of ending the CSR payments on premiums of silver plans on the exchange as well as for Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states and the impact on the federal deficit through 2026.

Trends Shaping the Healthcare Industry in 2018: A Strategic Planning SessionUncertainty regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), combined with industry market forces, including consolidations and strategic partnerships, positioning for value-based healthcare, cost containment efforts, an emphasis on technology and efforts to understand and address the whole patient as part of population health management have been the key drivers in the healthcare industry this year.

With the efforts to repeal and replace the ACA now focused on the elimination of the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers and changes to regulations governing association health plans, short-term, limited-duration insurance and health reimbursement arrangements, the healthcare industry can put aside the uncertainty of this year and move forward with the market forces in play.

During Trends Shaping the Healthcare Industry in 2018: A Strategic Planning Session, a 60-minute webinar on December 7th, two industry thought leaders Cynthia Kilroy, principal at Cynthia Kilroy Consulting and Brian Sanderson, managing principal, healthcare services, Crowe Horwath, will provide a roadmap to the key issues, challenges and opportunities for healthcare organizations in 2018.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

Have an infographic you’d like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.

Infographic: Healthcare Payment Model Reform

November 3rd, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

As the 79 million baby boomers turn 65, they will grow the
Medicare-eligible cohort from 13.1 percent to 20.3 percent in 2030, according to a new infographic by HORNE Healthcare.

The infographic provides advice for providers to prepare for success in the ever-changing healthcare reimbursement environment.

Under CMS’s “Pick Your Pace” choices for Year 1 Quality Payment Program participation, physician practices may opt for the minimum activity necessary to avoid a payment penalty in 2019 by simply submitting some data in 2017.

However, instead of delaying MACRA participation to the later part of this year, physicians should prepare and better position themselves today for MIPS success by analyzing their existing CMS data on their practices’ performance and laying a path now toward performance improvement.

Physician MACRA-Readiness: Mining QRUR and Other CMS Data to Maximize MIPS Performance describes the wealth of data analytics available from the CMS Enterprise Portal–Quality Resource Use Reports (QRURs) and other reports providing a window into practice performance under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). MIPS is one of two MACRA reimbursement paths and the one where most physician practices are expected to align.

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2016 ACO Results: Majority of Next Generation and Pioneer ACOs Earn Shared Savings

October 20th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Six of eight Pioneer ACOs and eleven of eighteen Next Generation ACOs earned shared savings in separate initiatives in 2016, according to newly released quality and financial data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

In 2016 Performance Year Five of the Pioneer ACO program, one of several new accountable care organization (ACO) payment and service delivery models introduced by CMS to serve a range of provider organizations, only Monarch HealthCare and Partners HealthCare were not among shared savings earners.

Banner Health Network emerged as the top 2016 Pioneer ACO performer, earning nearly $11 million in shared savings based on care provided to its more than 42,000 beneficiaries.

In order to receive savings or owe losses in a given year, Pioneer ACO expenditures must be outside a minimum corridor set by the ACO’s minimum savings rate (MSR) and minimum loss rate (MLR).

The Pioneer ACO model is designed for healthcare organizations and providers already experienced in coordinating care for patients across care settings. It allowed these provider groups to move more rapidly from a shared savings payment model to a population-based payment model on a track consistent with but separate from the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

The Pioneer ACO Model began with 32 ACOs in 2012 and concluded December 31, 2016 with eight ACOs participating.

Meanwhile, at the conclusion of 2016 Performance Year One of the Next Generation ACO model, Baroma, Triad and Iowa Health topped the list of ACO earners in this program, with each organization accumulating more than $10 million shared savings.

Building upon experience from the Pioneer ACO Model and the Medicare Shared Savings Program, CMS’s Next Generation ACO Model sets predictable financial targets, enables providers and beneficiaries greater opportunities to coordinate care, and aims to attain the highest quality standards of care.

According to a CMS fact sheet, 18 ACOs participated in the Next Generation ACO Model for the 2016 performance year, and 28 ACOs are joining the Model for 2017, bringing the total number of Next Generation ACOs to 45. The Next Generation ACO Model will consist of three initial performance years and two optional one-year extensions.

CMS’s ACO models are one of seven Innovation categories designed to incentivize healthcare providers to become accountable for a patient population and to invest in infrastructure and redesigned care processes that provide for coordinated care, high quality and efficient service delivery.

President Trump Halts CSR Payments, Signs Executive Order on ACA Components

October 12th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

The Trump Administration has called for the discontinuation of cost-sharing reductions (CSR) payments to health insurance companies based on a legal opinion from the Attorney General. President Trump also signed three executive orders directing the appropriate federal agencies to examine three Affordable Care Act (ACA) components: association health plans (AHPs), short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI), and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).

“CSR payments are prohibited unless and until a valid appropriation exists,” said HHS Acting Secretary Eric Hargan, referring to the legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office regarding CSR payments.

According to August 2017 estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation on the impact of ending CSR payments, the number of people uninsured will be approximately 1 million higher than under the baseline in 2018 but about 1 million lower in each year starting in 2020. In 2018, under the policy, the largest effect on coverage would derive from the drop in the number of insurers participating in the non-group market.

The CBO and JCT also estimated that by 2020, the effect on coverage would stem primarily from the increases in premium tax credits, which would make purchasing non-group insurance more attractive for some people. As a result, a larger number of people would purchase insurance through the marketplaces, and a smaller number of people would purchase employment-based health insurance.

President Trump also signed Executive Orders that direct the:

  • Secretary of Labor to consider expanding access to AHPs;

  • Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider expanding coverage through low cost STLDI; and

  • Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider changes to HRAs.

Each of these components will be subject to the federal government’s rulemaking process and will not have an impact on this year’s open enrollment period under ACA.

Industry reaction was mixed to the Executive Orders:

  • “Health plans remain committed to certain principles. We believe that all Americans should have access to affordable coverage and care, including those with pre-existing conditions. We believe that reforms must stabilize the individual market for lower costs, higher consumer satisfaction, and better health outcomes for everyone. And we believe that we cannot jeopardize the stability of other markets that provide coverage for hundreds of millions of Americans. We will follow these principles – competition, choice, patient protections and market stability – as we evaluate the potential impact of this executive order and the rules that will follow. We look forward to engaging in the rulemaking process to help lower premiums and improve access for all Americans,” said Kristine Grow, Senior Vice President, Communications, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

  • The American Hospital Association (AHA) said while the “Executive Order will allow health insurance plans that cover fewer benefits and offer fewer consumer protections. No one can predict future health care needs with complete certainty and such plans could put patients at risk when care is needed most.”

    In addition, said the AHA, these provisions could destabilize the individual and small group markets, leaving millions of Americans who need comprehensive coverage to manage chronic and other pre-existing conditions, as well as protection against unforeseen illness and injury, without affordable options. And, regarding consolidation, respected economic studies demonstrate that the hospital field’s trajectory has resulted in both cost savings and quality improvements. The AHA is encouraging the Administration to achieve the goal of ensuring that individuals and small businesses have affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage options without sacrificing critical consumer protections by stabilizing the individual and small group markets.