The Hill
August 22, 2012

Medicare improvement project linked to health law takes next step

Federal health officials are moving forward with a plan to reward healthcare providers that improve services for Medicare patients. 

The four-year project will be administered by the Medicare agency's Innovation Center, a creation of the 2010 healthcare law that seeks to reduce costs and improve healthcare delivery. 

The center's latest effort aims to foster well coordinated primary care within Medicare. 

The Medicare agency announced that it has selected the 500 medical practices that will participate. They will receive about $20 per beneficiary per month in exchange for providing new services. 

"Primary care practices play a vital role in our healthcare system,” Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said in a statement. "We are looking at ways to better support them in their efforts to coordinate care for their patients." 

The practices can improve their services by offering more flexible office hours, using electronic health records or coordinating with a patient's other doctors. 

Insurance plans outside of Medicare will also participate, CMS said, by paying primary-care practices that agree to enhance policyholders' care. 

The initiative will begin in the fall and benefit more than 300,000 Medicare patients, the agency told the press. 

Participating regions are Arkansas, Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon, New York's Capital District, the Cincinnati-Dayton Corridor and Tulsa, Okla. 

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