Adam Boehler speaks on what's next as he reflects on CMMI tenure

Boehler and Alexander
Adam Boehler, shown left, was involved in launching 16 payment models while at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. (ONC)

LAS VEGAS – Adam Boehler admits that he was hesitant to leave his role at Landmark Health and the world of entrepreneurship to work for the federal government. 

When initially approached by then-Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) Director Patrick Conway about taking the gig, Boehler said he turned him down. Landmark, a company that offers in-home chronic care management, was his baby, he said in a keynote presentation at HLTH on Tuesday. 

But after mulling it over, Boehler said he realized that CMMI would give him the opportunity to take what he was doing at Landmark for some-80,000 patients and reach millions. 

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"If you have a common set of values or things that are important to you, and you’ll always stay true to that, then I think you’ll always end up in a good place,” he said. 

RELATED: CMMI’s Adam Boehler—Why CMS is taking a ‘practical approach’ to drug pricing 

Boehler joined CMMI in April 2018 and earlier this month left the agency to head up the newly formed U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, sending him back to his start-up and entrepreneurial roots. In this role, he said he has $60 billion to use put toward global investments that further U.S. goals such as national security.

It's, in essence, a venture capital fund backed by the U.S. government. Boehler said the corporation will bring in revenue for the government, too.

In his tenure at CMMI, the agency launched 16 new payment models, including large-scale overhauls of payments in primary care and kidney care and the preliminary plan for an international drug pricing index

Boehler said one of the lessons he learned in the process of designing and launching these demonstrations is that the government, despite its reputation, actually moves at a “blistering pace” compared to the business world. 

The process from inception to the release of a new proposed payment demonstration was relatively swift, while similar initiatives at his companies would take months and months of planning, Boehler said. 

RELATED: CMMI’s Adam Boehler wants to ‘blow up’ fee-for-service 

Boehler also said that he was not beholden to any industry lobby in his time at CMMI and had the freedom to design models that might conflict with those lobbies directly. IPI, for instance, was immediately slammed by the pharmaceutical industry. 

The kidney care models, too, take direct aim at the business of legacy dialysis providers, he said. 

“My role when I was at CMMI is not to dislike any industry,” he said. “It’s to defend the American taxpayer and the patient.” 

He also teased that his successor has been found—but was careful not to use any identifiers, even gendered pronouns. He said he was involved in the search for his replacement at CMMI. 

Industry watchers will be “very happy” with his successor, he said. 

“They’ll not only continue what we’ve done but come up with their own individual spin,” Boehler said. 

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