Minnesota Oncology, Minnesota Blues team up for value-based care model

Minnesota welcome sign
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Minnesota Oncology are launching a new value-based care pilot. (Getty/AndreyKrav)

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is teaming up with Minnesota Oncology on a five-year value-based agreement for cancer care. 

The collaboration will begin Sept. 1, and the payer and provider will share risk for the overall cost of cancer for members treated at Minnesota Oncology, the companies announced. As part of the deal, Minnesota Oncology has agreed to a set of evidence-based principles to guide care, so Blue Cross will waive prior authorization for certain treatments that are often overutilized. 

Karen Amezcua, senior director of contracting at Blue Cross, told FierceHealthcare that this rewards the oncology practice for offering evidence-based care. She noted that Minnesota Oncology was already using the set guidelines, so they were not foisted on them by an insurer. 

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“It’s just how committed Minnesota Oncology has been to providing the right care and allowing us as a health plan come together to jointly support that model,” she said. 

RELATED: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, North Memorial Health launch joint primary care venture 

Blue Cross members treated at Minnesota Oncology clinics will also receive more coordinated approach to care. Amezcua said that the model will free oncologists to provide additional services such as telehealth, as they’re not being paid based on a claims form checklist. 

Minnesota Oncology also offers patients access to nonclinical supports such as nutrition, behavioral health and genetic counseling. It also provides remote monitoring, advanced care planning and palliative care for patients who need those services. 

“Cancer patients face a big challenge, and we remain committed to providing comprehensive care including state-of-the-art therapies, precision medicine, genetic testing, palliative care and access to clinical trials,” John Schwerkoskie, M.D., president of Minnesota Oncology, said in a statement. 

“We are very excited to collaborate with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to help make sure patients with cancer receive high-value and high-quality care in a community setting, close to home,” he said. 

Amezcua said Blue Cross intends to continue evolving the partnership over the coming months. 

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