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HHS Unveils CMS Primary Cares Initiative; Alex Azar Quoted

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The Department of Health and Human Services launched a new program aiming to transform primary care and reduce administrative burdens for health care providers through a set of payment models. HHS said Monday that the CMS Primary Cares Initiative seeks to support patients with chronic conditions and serious illnesses and has five payment model options: Primary Care First, PCF – High Need Populations, Direct Contracting – Global, Direct Contracting – Professional and Direct Contracting – Geographic.

“Building on the experience of previous models and ideas of past administrations, these models will test out paying for health and outcomes rather than procedures on a much larger scale than ever before,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “These models can serve as an inflection point for value-based transformation of our healthcare system, and American patients and providers will be the first ones to benefit.”

The two options under the PCF payment model seek to reduce hospital utilization and healthcare costs by incentivizing providers through performance-based payment adjustments. The PCF model will be tested for five years starting January 2020.

The DC payment model options are designed to establish “a competitive delivery system environment where organizations offering greater efficiencies and better quality of care will be financially rewarded,” according to HHS. HHS will carry out the CMS Primary Cares Initiative through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center.

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