Healthcare payment reforms must be implemented quickly, CMS told

(*Editor's note: This item originally appeared without correctly identifying the source of the report.*)   

Pilot programs designed to test new healthcare payment and reimbursement models under the new reform law need to be conducted much quicker, and more transparently, than previous demonstration projects, the Commonwealth Fund declared in a report released Tuesday.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act calls for the creation of a new agency within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to test new payment models proposed in the reform law. Beginning in 2011, the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation will test these payment models. They will include medical home demonstrations, salary-based reimbursement and bundled payments, in a wide variety of healthcare settings. But the Commonwealth Fund warns that the demonstration programs should not be bogged down by CMS's usual approach to new initiatives.

Most CMS demonstration projects last three to five years before a formal evaluation of the program's effectiveness even begins—a process that can take several additional years, according to the report. CMS should instead be much more flexible, making quicker, broader decisions on implementing, monitoring and modifying potentially effective programs, according to the report. Additionally, CMS should consider allowing states to lead payment reform efforts, and test systems used in the private sector, the Commonwealth Fund researchers argue.