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HMA keynote speakers preview themes, imperatives for March 5-6 Value Based Care Workshop

HMA’s Spring Workshop on Value-Based Care, March 5-6 in Chicago, is just a few weeks away. Listen to why our speakers are so excited to engage with attendees on value-based care.

Elizabeth Mitchell, CEO, Purchaser Business Group on Health will deliver the keynote speech on “The Purchaser’s Dilemma: Why Employers Should Demand Value (and Why They Don’t).”

Our March 5 dinner headliner Katie Kaney, CEO of LovEvolve will discuss her “Whole Person Index” and how we can collaborate in new ways to transform the healthcare system to deliver better health at a lower cost for all.

Hurry – online registration ends February 28!

Register here.

Interoperability and patient access final rule: the next phase in the data exchange journey

This week, our In Focus section reviews the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Interoperability and Prior Authorization Final Rule, published on January 17, 2024. This is CMS’s latest effort to flesh out regulations mandating payer interoperability and fully electronic prior authorization (PA) policies. The 2024 final rule also represents a new phase in the agency’s work to advance interoperability as it moves beyond policymaking focused on building interoperable systems to policies centered on the applications and usage of shared data.

The new requirements affect a large segment of the nation’s public health insurance programs, including Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations, state Medicaid fee-for-service (FFS) programs, state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) FFS programs, Medicaid managed care plans, CHIP managed care organizations, and qualified health plan (QHP) issuers on the federally facilitated exchanges (FFEs). These payers must implement and adhere to Health Level 7® (HL7®) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources® (FHIR®) application programming interfaces (APIs). These APIs were developed by the DaVinci project and the CARIN Alliance which are both HL7 FHIR accelerator programs. Leavitt Partners, an HMA company, leads the work of the CARIN Alliance.

The final rule demonstrates a commitment to information sharing across the industry landscape and confidence in the FHIR standard to support health data exchange across all required APIs. Ultimately, FHIR APIs are creating a more patient-centered data ecosystem that can provide a tangible return on investment.

Following are details about the requirements, opportunities, and next steps for stakeholders.

Prior Authorization API and Process

Payers must build and maintain PA APIs by January 1, 2027, allowing providers to ask payers whether PA is required for a patient’s procedure, what documents must be submitted to attain authorization, and to receive the final decision and reason for denied requests electronically within a specified timeframe (seven days for standard procedures and three days for expedited decisions).

The rule finalizes requirements for the PA process, regardless of whether the payer receives the PA request through the Prior Authorization API. Specifically, CMS is requiring that:

  • Affected payers send notices to providers when they make a prior authorization decision, including a specific reason for denial when they deny a PA request
  • Payers, other than QHP issuers on the FFEs, respond to prior authorization requests within specific timeframes
  • Affected payers publicly report certain metrics about their PA processes

These prior authorization process requirements become effective January 1, 2026. The last 12 months of PA information also must be shared with patient, providers, and other payers when the member switches a plan through the respective APIs.

To promote adoption of electronic prior authorization processes, CMS is adding an Electronic Prior Authorization measure for Medicare clinicians who participate in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and hospitals and critical access hospitals in the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program as an attestation measure.

Payer to Payer FHIR API

To support continuity of care and value-based programs, payers must be able to send, receive, and incorporate enrolled member data from previous and concurrent payers if members are dually enrolled.

To comply with the new electronic data sharing, the final rule requires payers to build and use FHIR API by January 1, 2027. Payer-to-payer (P2P) data sharing will include the last five years of claims/encounters, clinical data, and the active and pending PA requests. The data collected through the P2P APIs will need to be available to the other APIs (i.e., provider, patient, and prior authorization). The rule requires payers to request data from previous payers within a week after the patient opts in to sharing data. For dually enrolled members, data sharing will incur at least quarterly.

Patients must opt in and agree to the P2P data sharing. To this end, health plans must adjust their enrollment administrative process to allow members to easily share previous and concurrent payer information and consent to data sharing. CMS allows Medicaid or CHIP agencies to contract with entities, such as Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), for the digital access and transfer of a patient’s medical records, which supports the Payer-to-Payer API.

Provider Access FHIR API

Payers also must build and maintain a Provider Access API to share patient data with in-network providers with whom the patient has a treatment relationship, enabling continuity and coordination of care, by January 1, 2027. Affected payers must maintain an attribution process to associate patients with the appropriate in-network providers responsible for the patient care. The data from the payer via the Provider Access API must be added to a provider’s electronic health record, practice management solution, or any other technology solution that a provider uses for treatment purposes.

The Provider Access API includes the same data covered in the Payer to Payer Access API (claims/encounters, clinical data, and prior authorizations). The payer has one business day to deliver the required information. Payers must offer a mechanism for members to opt out from making their data available to the attributed providers.

Patient Access FHIR API

The final rule further enhances patient access to data to improve their treatment and shopping experience. In addition to claims and clinical data, as of January 1, 2027, payers must make PA data available through the Patient Access API to inform patients on their plan’s PA process and the status of requests.

In addition, affected payers must report annual metrics about Patient Access API usage and data requests to CMS beginning January 1, 2026.

Key Considerations and Early Results

The rule presents a significant opportunity to improve patient experiences and outcomes and to address some of the administrative burden on clinicians. Though CMS made some adjustments to timeframes in the proposed rule, immediate attention is needed to evaluate technological solutions available to payers, assess gaps between current and future required state, and develop policies to comply with new requirements and measures reporting.

Commercial payers may also leverage the improved electronic data sharing but are not required to do so. CMS-funded payers must respond to any inquiries from commercial payers and must require commercial payers to provide the same information as affected payers. Commercial payers, state governments, and other stakeholders have an opportunity to collaborate around the electronic data exchange.

This rule may have positive downstream application to other areas beyond PA, including quality measurements, risk adjustment, and population health. Early adopters who have implemented the prior authorization APIs have, on average, recorded a 150% – 300% return on investment (ROI). The implementation of API-based prior authorization represents a demonstrable increase in efficiency and significantly reduced provider burden. Given the measurable ROI, state-based regional collaboratives being led by Leavitt Partners are forming between payers and providers to implement the core tenants of the CMS rule well in advance of the 2027 deadline.

Similar initiatives are taking place in the technology space, like the Digital Quality Implementers Community, which was recently convened by Leavitt Partners and National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to build industry readiness for transitioning to FHIR-based digital measurement that hinges on improved electronic data sharing

What to Watch

The HMA team will continue to analyze the CMS’s Interoperability and Patient Access rule in the context of other federal and state policy changes affecting MA organizations, Medicaid FFS programs, state CHIP FFS programs, Medicaid and CHIP managed care programs, and QHPs.

The work and opportunities afforded with the Interoperability and Patient Access final rule will be featured prominently at The HMA Spring Workshop: Getting Real About Transforming Healthcare Quality and Value, March 5-6. In addition to rich discussions, HMA and HMA companies, including Leavitt Partners and Wakely Consulting LLC, are available to support planning and implementation and related system redesign initiatives. If you have questions about these topics, contact Ryan Howells ([email protected]) and Daniela Simpson ([email protected]).

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Ecosystem of Care Webinar Series: Pivoting to Save Lives

Over the coming weeks, HMA is presenting a 5-part webinar series describing a whole person, integrated, solutions-based approach to the ongoing overdose epidemic. It is time to reconsider standard attempts to solve this crisis. Leaders need to be willing to pivot away from approaches that have not yielded the level of impact that this crisis demands, and to be ready to try new ideas and solutions.

“An ideal Ecosystem of Care is person-centered, and parts of the system work together to eliminate stigma, overcome barriers, and prevent people from falling through the cracks that are currently pervasive,” says Dr. Jean Glossa, Managing Director. “Stakeholders participating in SUD care, prevention, and treatment may need to expand their services and work together with other partners in ways they have not before.” 

Each webinar in this series will share HMA’s nuanced understanding of the many paths available for those seeking recovery or a different relationship to addictive behaviors. Experts in the field will share valuable insights, shedding light on the various interventions and strategies that contribute to a holistic and effective approach to supporting individuals on their journey to lasting recovery. Whether you are a healthcare professional, caregiver, or someone personally affected by substance use, this webinar offers a roadmap for navigating the complexities of the Substance Use Care Continuum, fostering hope and resilience in the pursuit of sustained well-being.

By attending this series of webinars, you will learn how to:

  • Describe ongoing overdose crisis as a national public health emergency.
  • Recognize where certain solutions didn’t create the desired impact.
  • Consider new approaches and solutions to overcome ingrained stigma.

Part 1: Wednesday, February 28, 2024 12pm ET – SUD Ecosystem: Pivoting to Save Lives – An Overview

Part 2: Thursday, March 14, 2024 12pm ET – The Role of Health Promotion and Harm Reduction Strategies

Part 3: Wednesday, April 10, 2024 12pm ET – Prevention Screening and Early Intervention Strategies

Part 4: Wednesday, May 1, 2024 12pm ET – Treatment and Long-Term Care Recovery Strategies

Part 5: Tuesday, May 14, 2024 12pm ET – Next Steps for the SUD Ecosystem

HMA expert consultants have deep expertise, and professional on-the-ground lived experience, with supporting efforts nationwide to build an evidence-based, patient-centered, and sustainable addiction treatment ecosystem. No matter the scope or size of the project, HMA has experience working with states, and community organizations to develop impactful, sustainable responses to SUD. Our team is ready to help clients create, disseminate, and implement actionable and sustainable programs, to address substance use, overdose, and addiction.

Please register at the links above.

Check out these related resources:

If you have other questions or want to speak to someone about how HMA can help your organization with some of these ideas, please contact Jean Glossa or Erin Russell.

CMS releases advance notice of methodological changes for MA capitation rates and Medicare Part C and Part D payment policies

This week, our In Focus section reviews the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Calendar Year (CY) 2025 Advance Notice for the Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Part D Prescription Drug Programs published on January 31, 2024. Alongside the advance notice, CMS published draft CY 2025 Part D Redesign Program Instructions. This guidance includes CY 2025 payment updates as well as additional proposed technical and methodological changes to Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D. CMS previously released a proposed rule in November 2023 that included proposed policy changes to MA and Part D for CY 2025.

The proposed payment policies signal CMS is working to ensure the stability of MA and Part D programs, while also addressing concerns about the appropriateness of payments to plans. Furthermore, CMS remains highly focused on the impact methodological changes could have on payment to plans that enroll beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid services. Proposals to align quality measures across programs and strengthen the measures used to assess the quality of beneficiary experiences and services provide directional information on CMS’s plans for the forthcoming annual payment rules for 2025.

Following are highlights from the 2025 Advance Notice and Part D Redesign Program Instructions. The deadline for submitting comments is Friday, March 1, 2024. CMS will announce the MA capitation rates and final payment policies for 2025 no later than April 1, 2024.

Payment Impact on MA: CMS is projecting that federal payments to MA plans will increase on average 3.7 percent from 2024 to 2025. The increase reflects multiple factors, including growth rates in underlying costs, change in Star ratings, continued implementation of the new risk adjustment model and fee for service (FFS) normalization, and risk score trends. Actual impacts of the proposed payment policies will vary from plan to plan.

Risk Adjustment: CMS is proposing to continue its three-year phase in of the updated Part C risk adjustment model, first published in the CY 2024 Rate Announcement. In CY 2025, risk scores will be calculated by blending 67 percent of the risk score using the 2024 CMS hierarchical condition categories (HCC) risk adjustment model and 33 percent using the 2020 CMS-HCC risk adjustment model. In addition, the MA risk score trend is being calculated separately under each model, then blended by the respective percentage to determine a CY 2025 risk score trend of 3.86 percent.

CMS is proposing a new methodology for calculating the FFS normalization factor to accurately address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic without excluding any years of FFS risk scores.

CMS also proposes to apply the statutory minimum MA coding pattern difference adjustment factor of 5.90 percent for CY 2025.

Frailty Adjustment for FIDE SNPs and PACE Organizations. For CY 2025, CMS is proposing to blend the frailty score calculated for fully integrated dual eligible (FIDE) special needs plans (SNPs) consistent with the phase-in of the 2024 CMS-HCC model. The FIDE SNP frailty score is the sum of:

  • 33 percent of the score calculated with the 2020 CMS-HCC model frailty factors
  • 67 percent of the score calculated with the 2024 CMS-HCC model frailty factors

CMS also intends to use only the full Medicaid frailty factors to calculate frailty scores for FIDE SNP enrollees in order to align with the requirement that FIDE SNPs must have exclusively aligned enrollment, meaning that enrollment in FIDE SNPs will be limited to full-benefit dually eligible individuals, beginning in CY 2025. CMS will use the frailty factors associated with the 2017 CMS-HCC model to calculate frailty scores for Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) organizations in CY 2025.

Star Ratings: CMS reiterates its plan to further implement the “universal foundation” of quality measures. CMS first announced this subset of metrics in 2023, with the goal of aligning a core set of metrics across the agency’s programs while continuing to allow for program specific measures. CMS reminds plans that beginning with the 2024 measurement year (2026 Star Ratings), the weight of patients’ experience, complaints, and access measures will be reduced from a weight of four to a weight of two.

CMS proposes several updates and refinements to the Star Ratings program, including:

  • Retiring the Care for Older Adults – Pain Assessment (Part C) measure, starting as early as the 2025 measurement year
  • Making changes to the Plan Makes Timely Decisions About Appeals and Reviewing Appeals Decisions (Part C) measures for cases submitted electronically to the independent review entity
  • Adding Social Need Screening and Intervention (Part C) to the display page for the 2025 Star Ratings and giving notice that National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) is evaluating the potential addition of a utilities insecurity screening and intervention rate for this measure in the future
  • Adding Depression Screening and Follow-Up for Adolescents and Adults (Part C) and Adult Immunization Status (Part C) to the display page for the 2026 Star Ratings
  • Updating the Members Choosing to Leave the Plan (Part C and D) measure for the 2026 Star Ratings
  • Possibly adding the Initiation and Engagement of Substance Use Disorder Treatment (Part C) and Initial Opioid Prescribing for Long Duration (IOP-LD) (Part D) measures
  • Revisions to the Care Coordination (Part C) measure, and other changes through future rulemaking

Part D Impact

The advance notice reviews the significant changes to the Part D benefit occurring in 2025 as required in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA’s Part D changes effective in CY 2025 include:

  • Eliminating the coverage gap phase. A newly defined standard Part D benefit will consist of three phases: annual deductible, initial coverage, and catastrophic coverage. There is no initial coverage limit, and the initial coverage phase will extend to the maximum annual out-of-pocket threshold, after which the catastrophic phase begins.
  • Setting the out-of-pocket threshold at $2,000.
  • Sunsetting the Coverage Gap Discount Program and implementing of the Manufacturer Discount Program (Discount Program).
  • Making changes to the liability of enrollees, plans, manufacturers, and CMS.
  • Updating the definition of incurred costs to include, among other categories of costs, supplemental coverage and other health insurance, which was previously excluded. Manufacturer discounts provided under the Discount Program also will be excluded.
  • Premium stabilization will continue to be in effect.

CMS is recalibrating the RxHCC risk adjustment model to account for IRA changes and is proposing to calculate separate normalization factors for risk scores used to pay MA-PD plans versus PDPs.

Key Considerations

The impact of the MA risk score trend on payment will vary across individual MA plans. Plans will want to analyze these effects to inform their comments to CMS.

In the advance notice, CMS emphasized the strong growth in the dual SNP market for 2024. This market continues to present growth opportunities. CMS has sought to ensure that changes to payment accuracy better reflect more recent cost and utilization patterns and the risk profile of the sickest and most complex enrollees. Plans will want to consider payment incentives in the context of major policy, reimbursement, and operational changes required to improve integrated care for dually eligible individuals. MA organizations considering becoming FIDE SNPs and wishing to obtain frailty payments in 2025 will need to understand the specific requirements to be eligible for such payments.

The HMA Medicare team will continue to analyze these proposed changes. We have the depth and breadth of expertise to assist with tailored analysis, to model policy impacts across the multiple rules, and to support the drafting of comment letters on this notice.

If you have questions about the contents of CMS’s MA Advance Notice and payment policies and how these would affect MA plans, including SNPs, providers, and Medicare beneficiaries, contact Julie Faulhaber ([email protected]), Amy Bassano ([email protected]), or Andrea Maresca ([email protected]).

Pennsylvania releases community HealthChoices (CHC) Medicaid managed care RFA

This In Focus section reviews the request for applications (RFA) that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) released January 30, for the Community HealthChoices (CHC) Program. CHC is the mandatory managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS) program, which serves five CHC zones that cover all 67 counties in the commonwealth.  

Notably, this procurement, as compared to the original CHC procurement in 2018, has increased emphasis on innovative approaches to address health equity and the Social Determinates of Health (SDOH). The health equity focus goes beyond traditional health-related social needs such as access to housing, transportation, food, and employment, and addresses some SDOHs that have a particular impact on the CHC population, such as environmental conditions and addressing hazardous or unsafe living conditions.  

Behavioral health remains carved-out to separate behavioral health managed care organizations (BH-MCOs). Instead, CHC applicants will need to articulate how they will coordinate with the BH-MCOs to ensure access to appropriate BH services, which continues to be an area of significant interest for state Medicaid officials.  

Background 

The CHC Program serves individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and people with physical disabilities who receive home and community-based waiver services or nursing facility care.  

Participants may receive LTSS in the community or in a nursing facility.

CHC is the sole program option for fully dual eligible beneficiaries and most nursing facility clinically eligible (NFCE) individuals who reside in the five zones. The regional CHC zones are as follows:  

  • Southwest zone: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Green, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.  
  • Southeast zone: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.  
  • Remaining zones and respective counties, including
    • Lehigh/Capital zone: Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Fulton, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Perry, York
    • Northeast zone: Bradford, Carbon, Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Wyoming.
    • Northwest zone: Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, Warren 

RFA

Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) may submit applications for one or more zones. Applications are due March 15, 2024. The department anticipates awarding agreements to three to five CHC-MCOs in each of the five CHC zones. Selected applicants must provide CHC services in all counties in the zone(s) for which they are selected to participate and improve the accessibility, continuity, and quality of services for participants in the CHC program. The contract will run for five years and will have three one-year renewal options.  

DHS indicates that the awarded CHC-MCOs must have an aligned dual-eligible special needs plan (D-SNP) and a current Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) agreement with the department. The aligned D-SNP must be operational and the MIPPA agreement must be in place by the anticipated implementation date (January 1, 2025).

DHS indicates selected MCOs must be as flexible and adaptable as possible and demonstrate the ability to coordinate services for multiple populations and across multiple programs, including programs with a focus that is broader than the delivery of healthcare services and LTSS. 

Other RFA highlights include the following:  

  • Does not require a cost submittal. 
  • Includes small diverse business (SDB) or veteran business enterprise (VBE) goals of 11 percent and 3 percent respectively. Applicants must include separate SDB and VBE submittals for each zone in its application.  
  • Includes a contractor partnership program (CPP) which requires entities that are awarded a contract or agreement with DHS to establish a hiring target to support Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) beneficiaries in obtaining employment with the contractor, grantee, or their subcontractors. 

Notably, DHS has provided itself flexibility within the RFA to implement a pay-for-performance incentive to MCOs. Under this policy, DHS could make incentives available to MCOs that help participants successfully complete the financial eligibility redetermination process with their local County Assistance Offices (CAOs). The department may implement additional pay-for-performance incentives in later years. 

Timeline

Evaluation 

For an applicant to be considered responsible for this RFA and eligible for selection of best and final offers (BAFOs) and negotiations:  

  • The total score for the technical submittal of the application must be greater than or equal to 75 percent of the available raw technical points  
  • The applicant’s financial information must demonstrate that the organization possesses the financial capacity to fulfill the good faith performance of the agreement 

The evaluation committee will evaluate technical submittals for each zone separately. For each zone, DHS must select for negotiations the applicants with the highest overall score. The weight for the technical criterion is 100 percent of the total available points. Technical evaluation will be based on soundness of approach, applicant qualifications, personnel qualifications, and understanding the project. 

The final technical scores will be determined by giving the maximum number of technical points available to the application with the highest raw technical score. The remaining applications will be rated by applying the formula located at RFP Scoring Formula

Financial information will not be scored as part of the technical submittal. It will be reviewed only to determine an applicant’s financial responsibility. 

SDB and VBE participation submittals will not be scored, however, if an applicant fails to satisfy the SDB or VBE requirements described, and DHS will reject the application. 

DHS will not score the CPP submittal. Once an applicant has been selected for negotiations, DHS will review the CPP submittal.

Current Market

The CHC incumbents are AmeriHealth Caritas, Centene, and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), serving 411,034 CHC members as of October 2023.

DHS has published a historical data summary for the CHC program along with other DHS reports at: Community HealthChoices Historical Data

Link to solicitation: All files on PA eMarketplace 

Link  to RFP 

Want to know more about how the next phase of Community Health Choices will impact your organization?

HMA’s Pennsylvania-based teams can assist organizations seeking to understand the implications of this important procurement, key program changes and what the outcome may mean for providers, community base organizations, and other stakeholders. Please contact Dianne Bisacky with questions or if you are seeking more detailed analysis of this procurement or the Community Health Choices program generally. 

Nine States to Participate in Children’s Behavioral Health Policy Lab

LANSING, MICH. – Health Management Associates (HMA), in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) and the Centene Foundation, will convene a Children’s Behavioral Health (CBH) State Policy Lab, Feb. 7-9 in Baltimore. HMA today announced that Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin will participate in the policy lab. MITRE, which previously hosted a related federal convening, will also take part in this state convening.

This pioneering effort, made possible by the partner organizations, aims to convene state interagency teams – including child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, Medicaid, and K-12 public education – to collectively strategize, learn from innovators in the sector and promote cross-system alignment to drive outcomes for children, youth, and families.

COVID-19 has exacerbated long-standing system collaboration challenges across state child welfare, behavioral health, and Medicaid that lead to unsatisfactory outcomes for the most vulnerable children in our communities. Most worrisome is the worsening of behavioral and physical health challenges and trauma because of uncoordinated or fragmented care. This lack of coordinated strategy and policy leads to higher costs of treatment and also increasingly exposes states and local jurisdictions to threats or filings of class action lawsuits, and related settlements or those arising from Department of Justice investigations. Fortunately, federal and state efforts and investments to address the youth systems of care – including schools, community, delivery systems, and community-based child placing agencies – are in motion.

In November, a call for applications was released to U.S. states and territories for potential participation in the State Policy Lab. Applicants were required to identify demonstrated need, existing state agency governance structures focused on children and youth, technical assistance needs, and outcomes for attending the policy lab. The applications required demonstrated participation from Medicaid, child welfare and behavioral health agencies; a commitment to creating sustainable interagency solutions for children, youth, and their families and had to certify formal support from the Governor/Cabinet level.

An external independent panel reviewed applications for state agency participation using a standardized rubric that covered four domains:

  • Gaps and opportunities analysis
  • Intent of collaborative partnerships
  • Approach to engagement of youth and adults with lived experience
  • Imminent risks to public agency operations as a result of poor outcomes for children, youth, and their families

This convening is aimed at assisting child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, Medicaid, and K-12 public education where possible to build upon existing efforts to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families, strategically layering on missing components and promoting alignment between them and with other agency priorities. Examples of what could be co-designed with state partners:

  • Build a shared strategic vision for a comprehensive continuum of care that ensures access to the “right service, at the right time based on individual and family need.” This vision can strengthen prevention initiatives and ensure the full array of evidence-based community-based interventions including use of crisis response and stabilization models.
  • Develop policies and strategies for improving the engagement of children, youth, and families with lived experiences to the “right part of the system for the right level of care,” agnostic of the door through which they enter any coordinated child serving system, while ensuring that all aspects of this system are anchored in equity.

Following the event, learnings and findings will be disseminated to help states and counties adopt innovative solutions to improve outcomes for children, youth, and their families.

For more information email: [email protected]

New HMA report analyzes the expanded landscape of value-based entities and market growth opportunities

This week, our In Focus section highlights a new report released on January 25, 2024, Analyzing the Expanded Landscape of Value-Based Entities: Implications and Opportunities of Enablers for the CMS Innovation Center and the Broader Value Movement. The analysis explores the growing ecosystem of new entities designed to assume accountability for the total cost and quality of care in order to understand the growth of this market and consider the role these entities play in advancing accountable care in Medicare, Medicaid, and the broader healthcare sector. The report combines the value-based payment (VBP) policy and market expertise of Health Management Associates (HMA) and Leavitt Partners, an HMA company, with support from Arnold Ventures.

At the start of the movement, value-based arrangements primarily involved traditional providers and payers engaging in relatively straight-forward and limited contractual arrangements. In recent years, the value-based care market has expanded to include a variety of risk-bearing healthcare delivery organizations and provider enablement entities, with capabilities and business models aligned with the functions and aims of accountable care. Despite their prevalence, little formal research has been conducted to determine the role, growth, and impact of these entities to date, and publicly available information is limited.

The report introduces a framework for classifying these entities and estimates the size of this market for the first time. Using insights from 60 interviews with entity leaders, providers, and policymakers, and extensive secondary research into approximately 120 organizations, the report details the common offerings, partnership models, and growth strategies of these entities. The research investigated primary care-focused entities as well as risk-bearing delivery organizations and VBP enablers focused on select specialty areas that align with total cost of care models (i.e., kidney care, oncology, cardiology, behavioral health, and palliative care). Authors examined providers’ experiences selecting and collaborating with enablement partners and the role of these entities within Medicare accountable care models, as well as the broader value movement, to inform a set of guiding principles that help providers and policymakers evaluate the attributes of ideal partners.

Market Landscape

For the past decade, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), through its Innovation Center (CMMI), has been leading the movement toward value. Going forward, the agency is focused on scaling accountable care adoption to achieve its 2030 goal, but also seeks to ensure that transformation is equitable and sustainable. These entities are helping providers to engage in accountable care, but our guiding principles and policy recommendations aim to support CMS in ensuring that their growth aligns with provider and patient priorities.

In assessing the value-based care market, the report divided the organizations into three main categories by their core business model: VBP enablers (which are not involved in the direct provision of care, but in assisting others to adopt VBP models); risk-bearing delivery organizations (entities designed to deliver value-based care and assume payment risk for the cost of care); and organizations that are a hybrid of the two (companies that own assets that enable other organizations and those that deliver care).

From risk-bearing delivery organizations with business models that hinge on effective population health management and longitudinal patient relationships, to VBP enablers that provide the population health functions needed to succeed in accountable care while sharing responsibility for those outcomes, these entities are creating more opportunities for clinicians to deliver the type of coordinated, proactive, whole-person care that is unsupported in a fee-for-service system.

A Growing Market

Fueling the growth of value enablers are signals from federal and state policymakers that value-based payment (VBP) is here to stay. The certainty of this approach is already leading to increased focus on underserved populations and safety net providers as CMS places greater focus on expanding VBP contracts in Medicaid and other public insurance programs.

As the market matures and pressure to participate in accountable care mounts, organizations will have several paths forward to implementation of alternative payment models. The growth and availability of enablement entities that are designed with the explicit purpose of helping providers overcome barriers to participation – and whose own financial success hinges on the success of their provider partners – could represent a promising gateway toward achieving accountable care.

The research found several similarities across most entities in this space, demonstrating a highly competitive market, with organizations focused on similar priorities in target providers, geographies, and key populations. Entities often use hybrid, high-touch clinical models to support physicians with patient navigators and other clinical extenders and support staff. They heavily rely on health information technology, and often develop homegrown, proprietary tech assets to better address provider pain points. Finally, most entities depend on outside capital and investment to fuel growth, and investor interest in the space seems to be robust and growing, along with the evolution of value-based care models.

Guiding Principles and Policy Recommendations

The report concludes by proposing a set of guiding principles to describe the optimal attributes of value-based enablement entities aligned with CMS, provider, and patient goals. Authors point to steps CMS can take to best engage with this expanded ecosystem in support of its efforts to scale accountable care while ensuring appropriate guardrails are in place to protect patients and providers.

As CMS works to accelerate adoption of accountable care to achieve its 2030 goal and beyond, the agency must find ways to bring in new providers who have yet to engage meaningfully in these models, while retaining current participants and advancing model designs for the next phase of VBP and delivery reform. The report makes policy recommendations to 1) drive new and sustained provider participation and 2) ensure high-quality partnerships for CMS and providers.

Link to Report

What’s Next

With its acquisition of Leavitt Partners and Wakely Consulting, along with its strong and growing Medicare policy practice, HMA is developing a diverse and robust set of solutions for entities engaging in value-based care and payment. On March 5 and 6, HMA will be devoting its spring event to the topic. The report authors will be featured prominently and will lead a session on the report’s implications. More information about the Spring Workshop, Getting Real about Transforming Healthcare Quality and Value, can be found here.

For details about this research, please contact report authors Kate de Lisle or Amy Bassano.

CMS announces innovation in behavioral health model

This week, our In Focus section highlights the Innovation in Behavioral Health (IBH) model, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced January 18, 2023. It is the third state-based alternative payment model that the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) has released in recent months. HMA wrote about the Transforming Maternal Health (TMaH) Model here and States Advancing All-Payer Health Equity Approaches and Development (AHEAD) Model here.  

IBH Model Overview  

This model is designed to improve the quality of care and health outcomes for people with moderate to severe behavioral health conditions through person-centered care that integrates physical health, behavioral health, and health-related social needs (HRSN). Its objective is to improve care through healthcare integration, care management, health equity, and health information technology. 

CMS will select up to eight state Medicaid agencies for participation in this eight-year model that will begin in fall 2024. Participating states must partner with the agencies that are responsible for mental health and/or substance use disorder treatment to ensure coordination and alignment of policies. Model participants will develop and implement the IBH model in partnership with at least one Medicaid managed care organization or another intermediary as applicable. 

Community-based behavioral health organizations and providers in selected states can choose to engage as practice participants in the model. Community-based providers can include safety net providers, community mental health centers, public or private practices, and opioid treatment programs. Practice participants will be responsible for coordinating with other members of the care team to comprehensively address behavioral and physical health needs and HRSN, such as housing, food, and transportation for patients. Practice participants will conduct HRSN screenings, refer patients to specialists and community-based resources, and more. They will be compensated based on the quality of care provided and improved patient outcomes. 

Opportunities and Considerations  

The model will include three pre-implementation years during which states and practice participants will receive Medicaid and Medicare funding for development and capacity building. Medicare will provide practice participants with a per-beneficiary-per-month payment in pre-implementation years to support health IT, electronic health records (EHR), practice transformation, new workflows, and staffing investment necessary to implement the model. Starting in year four, the Medicaid alternative payment model must be implemented, and Medicare will begin making performance-based payments. 

Notably, the announcement materials do not indicate the maximum funding amount selected state Medicaid agencies are eligible to receive in IBH. The cooperative agreement funding for selected states will support implementation preparations, such as statewide health IT infrastructure, supporting practice participants, stakeholder convening, and developing the Medicaid alternative payment model.  

What’s Next  

The Innovation Center expects to release a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) in spring 2024. More details on the requirements, including payment methodologies and funding, are expected to be included in the NOFO.  

The HMA Behavioral Health and federal policy teams will continue to monitor developments in IBH and analyze the opportunities for states and providers in this model. HMA experts are also assessing the relative opportunities of the IBH model alongside other Innovation Center opportunities and initiatives already underway in states.  

The core design elements and objectives of the IBH are illustrative of the issues that HMA’s experts and industry leaders plan to discuss at HMA’s Spring Workshop, The HMA Spring Workshop: Getting Real About Transforming Healthcare Quality and Value.  

For more information on the IBH model, contact Amy Bassano, Melissa Mannon, Barry Jacobs, and Jennifer Hodgson. 

CMS approves next phase of New York’s Medicaid 1115 waiver journey

This week, our In Focus section describes New York State’s Medicaid Section 1115 waiver amendment authorizing at least $6.7 billion in funding for new programs and initiatives in the state’s Medicaid program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved New York’s application for the amendment January 9, 2024, which is effective retrospectively to April 1, 2022, through March 31, 2027.

New programs and initiatives are intended to improve access to services for Medicaid enrollees and include:

  • Regional social care networks (SCNs) responsible for screening, referring, and providing new health-related social needs (HRSN) services to eligible Medicaid beneficiaries
  • A statewide health equity regional organization (HERO), which will provide data analysis, regional needs planning, stakeholder engagement, value-based payment recommendations; and program analyses
  • Workforce initiatives, including student loan repayment (SLR) and career pathways training (CPT) to recruit and retain healthcare professionals in high-need fields
  • Medicaid hospital global budget initiative (MHGBI) to provide funding to safety-net hospitals with negative operating margins to support their participation in waiver-related services
  • An institution for mental diseases (IMD) waiver for substance use disorder (SUD) services
  • A commitment from the states to sustain and enhance Medicaid provider payment rates to ensure access to services

Funding

CMS authorized at least $6.7 billion in funding. Some waiver components are without specific monetary valuation (i.e., IMD waiver, payment rate increases).

 DY 25 (ends 3/31/24)DY 26 (ends 3/31/25)DY 27 (ends 3/31/26)DY 28 (ends 3/31/27)Total
HRSN Infrastructure$0$260,000,000$190,000,000$50,000,000$500,000,000
HRSN Services$3,173,000,000
HERO$50,000,000$40,000,000$35,000,000$125,000,000
Workforce: Student Loan Repayment$12,080,000$24,150,000$12,080,000$48,310,000
Workforce: Career Pathways Training$175,770,000$310,480,000$159,500,000$645,750,000
Medicaid Hospital Global Budget Initiative$550,000,000$550,000,000$550,000,000$550,000,000$2,200,000,000
 $6,692,060,000

HRSN

  • NY will implement 13 SCNs in nine regions, which are expected to establish networks of community-based organizations (CBOs) that provide HRSN services.
  • Contracted SCNs, which will be awarded pursuant to a recently published request for applications, will receive infrastructure funding to invest in technology, business and/or operational practices, workforce development, and outreach and stakeholder engagement.
  • SCNs will be reimbursed according to a state-published fee schedule for delivering HRSN services on a fee-for-service basis.
  • SCNs are responsible for screening for HRSN and determining Medicaid beneficiaries’ eligibility level for enhanced HRSN services, spanning case management, nutrition supports, housing supports, and transportation.

HERO

  • NY will contract with a single statewide Health Equity Regional Organization (HERO), which is independent of state or other government entities.
  • The HERO will be responsible for five activities:
  • Collect, aggregate, analyze, and report data
  • Conduct regional needs assessments and planning
  • Convene regional stakeholders
  • Make recommendations to support advanced VBP arrangements and develop options for incorporating HRSN into VBP methodologies
  • Conduct program analyses

Workforce

  • The waiver approval identifies two pathways for workforce investment:
  • SLR program for people who will serve in certain healthcare workforce shortage professions
  • CPT program to support recruitment and advancement in healthcare careers

Medicaid Hospital Global Budget Initiative

  • The MHGBI will be available to certain safety-net hospitals that meet governance, solvency, and geographic requirements.
  • The MHGBI provides incentive payments to these hospitals if they:
    • Collect and report data
    • Meet milestones for transitioning to alternative payment models
    • Demonstrate improvement in healthcare quality and equity
  • As a condition of MHGBI, New York will apply for participation in the CMS Innovation Center’s AHEAD model.

IMD Waiver for SUD

  • CMS approved an IMD waiver for SUD services. As a result, NY will be eligible to receive federal financial participation for Medicaid members who are short-term residents in IMDs for services that would not otherwise be matchable
  • The state anticipates 50 providers will enroll within the first year

Curious About What the Waiver Means for Your Organization?

HMA’s New York Team can assist organizations assessing opportunities and understanding implications tied to these new, significant waiver investments. They have been working with key stakeholders to help inform the design of foundational components of the new wavier initiatives. HMA’s team of experts anticipate that the terms and conditions agreed to in the New York amendment provide important policy insight and direction for other states pursuing similar initiatives. Please contact Cara Henley and Josh Rubin with questions or if you are seeking more detailed analysis of the state’s waiver amendment.

Driving change in healthcare delivery: HMA Spring Workshop provides deep dive into metrics, coordination, and partnerships for value-based care

LEARN MORE ABOUT HMA’S SPRING WORKSHOP

Within the healthcare sector, there is an imperative for a comprehensive understanding of the care delivery framework that will positively impact outcomes, equity, and the overall health of communities. Among the drivers for this imperative is renewed focus among Medicare officials and interest from states and employers to transition to alternative payment methods that focus on value for payers and patients. A variety of care delivery structures and metrics can be used, and all have a role in driving value-based care (VBC).

One critical element of VBC hinges on whether and how healthcare organizations focus their care delivery structures on patients. VBC also incorporates metrics that further validate the ability of the system to positively impact patient outcomes, reduce health disparities, and improve population health. Emphasizing technology, interdisciplinary collaboration, and streamlined communication can revolutionize the care delivery model.

The HMA workshop-style spring conference on March 5 and 6, is designed to delve deeply into the intricacies of these care delivery frameworks and metrics within the context of VBC. This unique workshop will challenge attendees to roll up their sleeves and actively engage to become part of the solution through an interactive conversation, allowing participants to discuss real-world scenarios, analyze data and metrics and, using small-group breakout sessions, engage in focused and in-depth knowledge sharing.

Break-out sessions facilitated and led by subject matter experts will challenge attendees to identify new solutions around care delivery structures and contractual metrics that improve outcomes, that may include:

  • Engaging providers around consistent approaches to enhance patient outcomes, optimize treatment plans, and ensure the delivery of evidence-based, high-quality care.
  • Developing approaches for patient engagement that improve care delivery and foster active involvement and collaboration between patients and healthcare providers.
  • Crafting strategies for seamless coordination among healthcare providers, spanning sectors, and involving non-traditional providers and community organizations.
  • Understanding components of effective provider network agreements and how they contribute to achieving healthcare goals through strong partnerships and collaborations.

The workshop promises to be a dynamic platform for professionals in the healthcare sector, offering valuable insights, practical strategies, and collaborative opportunities to secure a place for high-quality value-based care. By focusing on care delivery structures, patient engagement, care coordination services, and provider network agreements, attendees will be well-equipped to navigate the complexities of healthcare and contribute to a healthier, more equitable future.

To learn more about the HMA 2024 Spring Conference Workshop and to register, click here.

CLICK HERE TO register

Devising a framework for non-profit fundraising

Money is always “top-of-mind” among non-profit leaders, from CEO’s at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to Executive Directors at Community-based Organizations. To supplement projects and retain the ability to further their missions, non-profit organizations (NPOs) need funding. When non-profits and funding sources are not well aligned, programs are cut, curtailed, or never launched. Assisting clients in pursuing alternative funding sources requires a creative yet methodical approach to promote success and boost organizational sustainability.

Devising a framework for non-profit funding presents challenges. Funding models/strategies cannot be too general nor too specific. There is not a single approach, a one size fits all model or sourcing strategy for non-profits to pursue. Instead, non-profit leaders must clearly articulate the funding model or strategy that best supports the growth of their organization and use that insight to examine the potential funding opportunities preeminently associated with organization-specific success. For example, a community health center serving patients covered by Medicaid and a non-profit organization doing development work in housing for the homeless are both funded by the federal government, yet the type of funding each receives and the decision makers controlling that funding are very different. Utilizing the same funding methodology for the two would not be productive. Fortunately, there are multiple methods and strategies to acquire funds. Non-profits should be strategic in seeking approaches suitable to their needs and capabilities and be creative in pursuing more than one model to acquire supplemental funds.

The core success of NPOs is based on a range of funding options, private grants and government grants, corporate sponsorships, private funding, endowments, and community fundraising. There is also a considerable amount of money available from the public sector, businesses, charitable trusts, foundations, in-kind donations, and local and state legislative bodies. The goal of any successful fundraising campaign is to convey fully what the money is or will be supporting and clearly articulate the projected positive outcomes that will be derived from the funding. Once the project is fully clarified, the next step is research. Many funding avenues exist. The NPO must decide which funding sources are best suited for each project and pursue those options.

When choosing potential funding sources, NPOs must consider the size of their organization, their mission, and various other defining characteristics. Once this internal due diligence is completed, revenue needs should be clarified, and a tactical fundraising strategy outlined. Creating a “ratio” with the end-result in mind allows for revenue diversification and avoids the too heavy reliance on one income source. For example, an NPO might project obtaining 50% of needed revenues from grants, 20% from a corporate sponsorship, and the remaining 30% from a foundation. Once the funding sources have been identified, the types of decision makers and the motivations of these decision makers must be evaluated. Then, a tactical roadmap designed to obtain the needed funding should be implemented. 

As society looks to the non-profit sector to solve important problems, a realistic understanding of funding models is increasingly important to realizing these aspirations. As consultants whose mission is to turn challenges into triumph for our clients, championing efficacious, high-yielding funding models ensures long-term viability for the organizations we serve.

Success relies on planning. It is much better to be proactive than reactive. Consider your organization’s funding needs, do your research, and lay the groundwork before diving into any fundraising pursuit. An assessment of your organization’s current funding strategies is essential. What is working; what is not? Is the current funding source reflective of the organization’s mission and values? Use the answers to these questions to make decisions and recommendations on which fundraising strategies to source. Get creative! Brainstorm unconventional ways your organization will stand out to potential funders, but be analytical. Balance creativity with data, keeping in mind which funding strategy reflects the best return. Focus time and energy on the funding model that will be most reliable, profitable, and feasible.

The non-profit world rarely engages in a succinct conversation about an organization’s appropriate long-term funding strategy. That is because the different types of funding that fuel non-profits have never been clearly defined. More than a poverty of language, this represents and results in a poverty of understanding and clear thinking. As consultants, HMA can provide an outside perspective and sort through the minutia presenting a clear, methodical, appropriate path to fundraising success.

Potential links to aid in your fundraising endeavors:

https://www.fqhc.org/funding-opportunities
https://www.samhsa.gov/grants
https://www.usgrants.org/business/mental-health-services
https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/mental-health/funding
https://about.bankofamerica.com/en/making-an-impact/grant-funding-for-nonprofits-sponsorship-programs
https://theathenaforum.org/grants

HMA works with a wide variety of healthcare clients, including FQHCs, community-based organizations, hospitals, provider practices, behavioral health, and managed care organizations, and can help with:

  • Grant Writing
  • Technical Assistance
  • Strategic Planning
  • Financial planning, Implementation and Optimization

For more information about how HMA can help your organization’s grant and funding strategies, contact our experts below.