CMS awards 26 projects $122.6M to innovate care, cut costs

By Mary Mosquera
11:40 AM

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has awarded $122.6 million to 26 healthcare project in which organizations have established innovative collaborations to test their best ideas to quickly improve the quality and cost of patient care.

The groups anticipate cutting health spending by $254 million over the next three years with their ground-breaking solutions, according to the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in its May 8 announcement about the cooperative agreements.

[See also: Big data and public health, part 2: Reducing unwarranted services.]

The projects include collaborations of leading hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technology innovators, community-based organizations, and patients’ advocacy groups, located in urban and rural areas that will begin work this year to address healthcare issues in local communities. They include projects in North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Oregon.

Among the specific projects receiving grants are:

• Emory University’s collaboration with area health systems to train health professionals and use tele-health technologies to link critical care units in rural Georgia to critical care doctors in Atlanta hospitals aims to reduce the need to transfer patients from rural hospitals to critical care units in Atlanta;

• Camp Courage, which serves adults with disabilities and complex medical conditions in Minneapolis-St. Paul, will create a patient-centered medical home focused on highest-cost Medicaid patients;

• University Hospitals of Cleveland will extend the expertise of an elite children’s hospital to local pediatric practices treating children with complex chronic conditions and behavioral health problems with physician extension teams and tele-health in order to increase access and care coordination for children;

• Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Boston to improve care and reduce hospital readmissions for Medicare and beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and who represent over 8,000 discharges for conditions such as congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarctions and pneumonia.

The awards are another way that the Health and Human Services Department can support local communities now to offer better care, lower cost and enhance the healthcare workforce as part of the health reform law, said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“We can’t wait to support innovative projects that will save money and make our health care system stronger,” she said, adding that more projects will be announced in June.

CMS selected the preliminary awardees for their novel solutions to the healthcare challenges in their communities and for their focus on creating a well-trained healthcare workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the healthcare and social assistance sector will gain the most jobs between now and 2020.