CMS launches innovation center to improve care, cut costs

Just yesterday, a day before CMS chief Dr. Donald Berwick was scheduled to appear before a Senate Finance Committee for his first appearance on the Hill, CMS officially launched an innovation center designed to organize and evaluate public and private insurance pilot projects that aim to improve the quality of patient care through better coordination and streamlined payment systems, The Hill and Time report. Reformers say the center could help "bend the healthcare cost curve" down.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which was created by the health reform law, will look for better ways to improve quality of care and cut costs. One focus will be streamlined payment systems that reward care that keeps patients healthy. Acting Innovation Center Director Richard Gilfillan and Berwick said the center would try to quickly evaluate projects and if successful, quickly apply best practices.

"Time is of the essence," Berwick said in a conference call with reporters. Seven-year demonstration projects would not be responsive enough for what the country needs now, according to Kaiser Health News. "I think we can do a lot and we can do it fast," he added.

Among new initiatives, one project will test the effectiveness of teams of doctors and other healthcare workers who treat low-income patients at community health centers. In another project, eight states, up to one million Medicare beneficiaries and 1,200 medical homes will assess the effectiveness of doctors and other health workers who operate in a more integrated way and receive more coordinated payment.

To learn more:
- check out the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation's new website
- here's the CMS press release and fact sheet
- read The Hill's story
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- here's the Time blog post

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