$1 Billion Health Reform Grant Program Draws Interest from Prevention Advocates
A $1 billion federal grant program to support the development of new healthcare models is drawing lots of applications, and a substantial proportion are for projects that aim to improve population health. For prevention advocates, this is great news. It means health providers are deeply interested in creating payment and healthcare models that improve the health of populations—not just individual patients—as they also reduce costs and provide better care.
We believe this interest is shared by leaders of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), the agency that is administering this pilot program and leading the effort to transform the U.S. healthcare system. They clearly recognize the importance of prevention to the success of federal health insurance programs—and are putting real money into the effort. We also believe that innovators in the community—and at CMMI—are deeply interested in models such as wellness trusts and social impact bonds that invest in community prevention across geographic areas or among large groups of people. We hope the funding for population health will be proportional to the interest shown by the volume of applications.
When Prevention Institute, Public Health Institute and Trust for America's Health conducted a webinar earlier this summer to help providers and prevention advocates understand the opportunity presented by the new program, the Healthcare Innovations Awards, more than 700 people attended the webinar. We noted at the time that CMMI was encouraging applicants to create partnerships that include providers, community-based organizations and coalitions, research institutions and local health departments and community clinics.
During the webinar and in subsequent conversations, many potential applicants have expressed concern about the requirement that proposals demonstrate the ability to reduce costs and produce a return on investment. This may seem daunting, and we want to offer some reassurance to those concerns.
While the ability to lower costs and improve the quality of care will be essential to the success of this program, we think CMMI administrators also understand that some of the details will need to be worked out in practice. We think they recognize that it won’t always be possible to have worked out all the exact specifics of a successful program in the initial application. We believe they are committed to working with strong applicants to help them adjust and strengthen their plans as they begin to roll out and implement them. Here’s how former CMMI director Rick Gilfillan put it in a June 15 webinar:
“We understand and fully expect that we will see quite a spectrum of responses with regard to payment model… We understand that not all proposals can come with everything about the payment model fully ‘baked.’… We'll, no doubt, have some that look like they're fully ‘baked’ and some that might be more speculative… We welcome all.”
We strongly encourage colleagues across the country who sent in letters of intent to submit full proposals by the Aug. 15 deadline. If you’ve developed a proposal to incorporate community prevention measures into a healthcare delivery system and would like to discuss it with us in advance of the deadline, contact Leslie Mikkelsen. We’re happy to share what we know.
So get those applications in—and good luck. Working together, we can to add a big ounce of prevention and make our healthcare system stronger.