Weekend update

Congress is out of town this week. Here’s a link to the Week in Congress report on last week’s activities there.  Of note is the fact that the House of Representatives completed passing all twelve appropriations bills for fiscal year 2018. Here are links to the Federal Times and Federal News Radio reports on this action. Federal News Raadio explains that

The Senate is much further behind the House in its appropriations and budget process. The chamber hasn’t passed any of the 12 appropriations bills, and Senate appropriators have yet to move all spending packages out of committee. Lawmakers have until Dec. 8 now to pass some sort of spending bill before the current continuing resolution expires.

Modern Healthcare has a very upbeat article about a CMS’s Comprehensive Primary Care initiative.

Unlike most of the CMS’ models, CPC had the agency team up with commercial payers and managed-care plans to lower healthcare costs for all patient populations in a particular region. 

Each payer doled out a monthly fee to practices of around $20 in order to encourage better care coordination by primary-care providers. Each practice on average received $175,775 from the CMS and other payers—equaling $51,286 per clinician or 12.5% of practice revenue—for CPC participants by the third year of the experiment in 2015, which is the last year full data are available. 

By the end of 2015, payers invested over $370 million to transform primary care and 445 practice sites in seven regions participated in the program. In all, about 327,000 Medicare beneficiaries and nearly 3 million patients nationwide saw their care affected by the CPC model.

The vast majority of healthcare providers who participated in the CPC have transitioned over to the current stage known as CPC Plus. Intriguing. A non fee for service payment model that providers appreciate.

Speaking of CMS,  the agency unveiled the new SSN free Medicare beneficary card on Friday.

CMS will begin mailing the new cards to people with Medicare benefits in April 2018 to meet the statutory deadline for replacing all existing Medicare cards by April 2019. In addition to today’s announcement, people with Medicare will also be able to see the design of the new Medicare card in the 2018 Medicare & You Handbook. The handbooks are being mailed and will arrive throughout September.

This is also a big transition for FEHB carriers whose enrollment includes a large cadre of Medicare beneficiaries.