CMS doubles funding for rehospitalization reduction program

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has pledged an additional $16.9 million to Indiana University's OPTIMISTIC project, the university announced this week.

The OPTIMISTIC project, which stands for “Optimizing Patient Transfers, Impacting Medical Quality and Improving Symptoms: Transforming Institutional Care,” first began in February 2013. The program embeds nurses and nurse practitioners in nursing homes to provide direct support to residents and train staff, with the goal of improving care and reducing avoidable hospital readmissions.

CMS' new funding boost, which brings the total amount pledged by the agency to $30 million, ushers in the second phase of the project. Currently 19 Indiana nursing homes participate in the project; the second phase will add 25 new facilities.

The second, four-year phase of the project will also implement a new CMS payment model that incentivizes facilities and physicians to provide higher levels of medical care on site, instead of admitting residents to a hospital.

The OPTIMISTIC program showed promising results just one year after implementation, Indiana University researchers reported.