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DECEMBER NEWSLETTER: The ACA's Center for Innovation


This is a feature story in our December Newsletter.

One of the most exciting things about the Affordable Care Act is the way in which it institutionalizes change into the culture of the Federal Government.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the establishment and funding of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).   Under the leadership of Richard Gilfillan, himself an innovator in health care design, the Center is rolling out pilots designed to change the way in which we practice.   Analysts agree that the way to change practice is to change the way in which we pay for care, but no single “best practice” change will allow the flexibility we need to ensure a system that creates access, improves health and provides value to our citizens.   The Center is empowered to fund trials of novel payment models and care delivery arrangements, evaluate their impact on outcome, cost and quality and get that information to Secretary Sebalius, who can then roll out change throughout the Medicare and Medicaid systems.  For CMS, this is a game-changer, promoting rapid cycle change in a Federal system that is more accustomed to gradual evolution.  This is real change, the kind we spoke about in the 2008 campaign, and it is happening now:  check out the list of programs under way on their website.

As you can imagine, this key program at the heart of the Affordable Care Act is under attack.   Recently, the need for innovation was questioned on the Hill by 3 Republicans on the Senate Finance and Health Committees.   They understand that the real strength of the ACA lies in its ability to bring the ability to change into the heart of the Federal Government, and that, if that stops.  What can we do about it?

  • Explain it.  Make sure that your colleagues and professional organizations understand the need for this investment in change, and support it in Congress.
  • Embrace it.  Look for ways in which you and your colleagues can get involves in innovation.  One way is the Partnerships for Patients program.  Is your organization a member?  Maybe they should be.
  • Support it.  You can become an Innovation Advisor, you can share your ideas on the website,  you can attend a webinar or a meeting.

Most importantly, you can tell people that it takes a while to change a government, but that things like the Innovation Center are the kind of change in which we can believe.

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