HHS to improve care coordination with medical home demo

In the midst of skeptics around accountable care, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) yesterday announced it will launch a $42-million initiative, the Federally Qualified Health Center Advanced Primary Care Practice (FQHC APCP) demonstration project. The FQHC APCP will test care coordination between physicians and other healthcare providers of patient-centered medical homes for Medicare beneficiaries.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and operated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), 500 FQHCs can see changes through the demonstration project as early as Sept. 1 when it goes into effect. It will conclude on Aug. 13, 2014.

"The transformation to a patient-centered medical home is designed to improve the coordination of care for Medicare beneficiaries by helping doctors and other health professionals work in teams," said HRSA Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield in a statement. "FQHCs in this project can increase access to important primary care services and thus reduce the need for costly hospitalizations or emergency department visits."

Meanwhile, healthcare organizations remain skeptical, with some saying that complex rules of Medicare reform will create administrative burdens for arbitrary metrics of accountability that ultimately may not help improve outcomes or cut costs.

Applications to enroll in the demonstration project are open from June 6 to Aug. 12, 2011.

For more:
- read the HHS press release
- check out a Washington Post editorial
- read a Heritage Foundation blog post

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