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Prevention Institute

Health Reform Rapid Response: February 4, 2014

Set the Record Straight on Innovation Fund: Make Your Voice Heard

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran an article on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, “Method of Study Is Criticized in Group’s Health Policy Tests.” Reporter Gina Kolata’s one-sided depiction featured voices from one side of the issues and suggested the Innovation Center is out of control, throwing money at untested “demonstration projects” and shunning evidence-based research protocols. It gave little space to CMMI’s director to outline the program’s goals and methods while accusing CMMI of "squandering a crucial opportunity to develop the evidence needed to retool the nation’s troubled health care system in a period of rapid and fundamental change."

We think it’s the other way around. Our health system is in desperate need of major change to improve health and reduce health care spending. CMMI’s Innovation Fund offers critical opportunities to do just that by developing and testing innovative new models. CMMI was established by the Affordable Care Act to "rapidly test innovative care and payment models and encourage widespread adoption of practices that deliver better health care at lower cost."

One focus of the Center is on improving population health by financing new models that encourage collaborative efforts between medical providers and community-based organizations and services. At Prevention Institute, we think this is exactly the right approach and we’ve been working to get the word out about the work of CMMI and to share cutting-edge prevention ideas for community-centered health systems with applicants.

It’s not irresponsible to develop new prevention-oriented delivery models, as Kolata suggests -- it’s irresponsible to leave our health system as it is: with sky-high healthcare costs, high rates of preventable illness and injuries, and deeply entrenched health inequities. Kolata suggests that randomized clinical trials are the only effective way to test a new healthcare delivery model. That’s absurd. We’re not clinical trial experts and won’t pretend to have the answers about optimal trial designs. But randomized trials are not always feasible or appropriate and are not the only way to demonstrate the success of new models. 

The article failed to include many key voices in healthcare innovation and health policy research. Many public health supporters have taken to the comments section to call out its inaccuracies -- but we need your help in setting the record straight, and ensuring that widespread support for prevention and innovation is heard loud and clear.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Leave a comment on the article. Voice your support for CMMI’s Innovation Fund and community prevention.
  2. Share the story on social media, explaining what’s at stake -- and ask your networks to leave a comment, too.
  3. Submit a letter to the editor. Especially if you are a scientist, doctor, health system innovator or patient: your voices were missing from this article and need to be heard. For guidance, see our tips for writing Op-eds and letters to the editor.

Here are some key talking points to guide your comments and letters to the editor:

  • CMMI’s Innovation Fund offers a critical chance to shift our health system from a focus on sick-care to wellness and prevention. By encouraging clinical providers to collaborate with community-based organizations, the Fund offers an excellent opportunity to advance health through prevention methods that can improve the health of entire communities.
  • Collaborating on prevention can save money and lives. CMMI supports innovative partnerships, like community-based organizations and coalitions, research institutions and local governments as well as provider groups, hospitals, and insurers. This is unique opportunity to advance community health improvement efforts now underway outside of clinic walls. We need more of this kind of innovative approach to health -- not less.
  • We need to expand what is already working across the country so that everyone can enjoy health and prosperity. Seven of 10 deaths among Americans each year are caused by preventable chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. These same chronic diseases account for more than 75 percent of our nation's health care spending. We owe it to our children and families to invest in sensible prevention strategies.

Read Community Centered Health Homes

In this paper, we outline an approach that community health centers can take to integrate community prevention into the delivery of services.

Read How Can We Pay for a Healthy Population?

Prevention Institute talked to health-system innovators around the country to identify emerging new approaches for financing population health measures that prioritize community prevention. Read now.

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