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CBO Report on Medicare Demos Draws Mixed Response

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, January 23, 2012

The report "is important for the industry because it provides a rich level of detail for each demonstration project. It's information we just haven't seen before," says Tracey Moorhead, president and CEO, of Care Continuum Alliance, an advocacy and research group whose members are involved in population health, including disease and care management, wellness and prevention, health information technology, and pharmacy benefits.

Morehead adds that despite some of the findings, the report reinforces what works, including greater integration and support for physician-led care models. "We're on the right track. We're developing a road map of what works with the Medicare population."

She says the big takeaway for the healthcare industry is that to be successful in managing the health of the Medicare population "we need more patient data on a timely basis." The report notes that demonstrations that were able to collect timely data were "better able to coordinate and manage their patients' care." It adds that "those efforts could be strengthened if CMS improved its ability to provide programs with timely data on their patients' use of services."

Blair Childs, the senior vice president of public affairs for Premier Healthcare Alliance, which participated in one of the VBP demonstrations, says he wasn't surprised by the report. "I could have told you what it would say," he told HealthLeaders Media. "We're in the very early phases of changing the broken fee-for-service system. It will take time to get all the parts to work property to achieve lower costs and higher quality."

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