CMS gives good report card to primary care initiative

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gave a pat on the back Monday to physician practices participating in the Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) initiative.

CMS announced the second round of the program’s shared savings results, with nearly all of the 481 practices taking part in the initiative meeting quality of care requirements and four of the seven participating regions sharing in savings with the government agency, wrote Patrick Conway, M.D., principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer at CMS, in a blog post.

In 2015, the second year of savings under the program, 95 percent of the practices in the initiative met quality of care requirements, Conway said. Four of the seven regions participating in the CPC program--the states of Arkansas, Colorado and Oregon and the Greater Tulsa region in Oklahoma--had net savings, after accounting for care management fees paid, he said. For the three regions that suffered net losses, the savings generated in the other four regions covered those losses so that care management fees across the program were offset by reduced Medicare spending.

More than half of participating CPC practices will receive a share of over $13 million in earned shared savings. CPC saved $57.7 million in Part A and Part B Medicare expenditures in 2015--savings that are essentially equivalent to the $58 million paid in care management fees to the practices, Conway said.

CMS launched the multi-payer partnership in 2012 to advance primary care by paying clinicians to provide comprehensive, coordinated care to patients in seven regions across the country. The practices that participate served over 376,000 Medicare beneficiaries and more than 2.7 million patients overall in 2015, Conway said.

“As the largest test of advanced primary care in U.S. history, CPC demonstrates the potential of primary care clinicians redesigning their practices to deliver better care to their patients, and provides clinicians support to innovate and deliver care in ways that better meet their patients’ needs and preferences,” Conway wrote.

In addition to Medicare savings, CPC practices provided quality care, with lower than expected hospital admission and readmission rates, and favorable performance on patient experience measures, he said. For the first time, CMS last year included electronic Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs) to measure practices’ performance, which also exceeded national benchmarks, particularly on preventive health measures.

CMS has announced the next-generation program, with the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) initiative, a five-year primary care medical home model, that begins on January 1, 2017. CMS will include 14 selected regionals and is currently reviewing applications from practices looking to participate.