KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare To Create Pilot Program For Medical Home Model

Medicare will create a pilot program for a "medical home" model. The Wall Street Journal reports: "The Obama administration said Medicare will help fund state pilot projects that use primary-care doctors and teams of coordinators to manage patient care and reduce costs. Under the 'medical home' model, pioneered in Vermont and several other states, physicians are paid more for coordinating care for their patients. The goal is to help patients – especially those with chronic illnesses – stay healthy enough to avoid hospital trips and expensive treatments, saving money in the long run."

"All five bills in Congress to overhaul the nation's health-care system would open the door to widespread use of medical homes programs. Legislation unveiled Wednesday by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) would set up bonus payments for Medicare plans that coordinate care, and expand medical homes into Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor" (Zhang, 9/16).

The Associated Press reports that the program will begin next year and adds: "Under the Medicare pilot program, the focus would be on wellness and prevention to pre-empt hospitalizations and emergency room visits down the road. States will be able to apply to be part of the program later this fall. They'll have to demonstrate that a majority of primary care doctors in the area would participate" (Kerr, 9/16).

Government Health IT reports: "Because of the coordination of providers and services involved, medical home projects normally rely on health IT to make records instantly available at the point of care or inquiry. ... States that want to conduct similar demonstrations must ensure that their projects will produce savings for the Medicare program" (Mosquera, 9/16).

A Kaiser Health News story, Living In A 'Medical Home', featured the Vermont program (Brink, 9/11).

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