Skilled nursing providers should capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ plans to roll out more voluntary payment initiatives, according to observers.

The opportunities for nursing homes opened up in late November, when CMS finalized its previously announced cancelation of mandatory bundled payment models for hip fractures and cardiac care. CMS Administrator Seema Verma stressed that the agency wanted to focus on voluntary models, details of which she said were forthcoming.

CMS “continues to believe that bundled payment models offer opportunities to improve quality and care coordination while lowering spending,”  but wants to develop different bundled payment models and engage more providers, she said.

That’s “great news for nursing home providers,” said Keely Macmillan, general manager of BCPI for Archway Health, to McKnight’s. “This really clears the way for SNFs to be engaged in these voluntary programs,” she noted.

Macmillan and Dave Terry, CEO of Archway, predicted future voluntary models would focus on diversifying the type of provider that can own the bundle, as well as arrangements that “engage a broader provider community” and incorporate outpatients.

“Our advice to providers, whether it’s SNFs or other types, is to apply to these programs,” Terry said. “You get a tremendous amount of data to look at and see how you compare to others in your market, and where your opportunities are for improvement. Just look and see how you might improve outcomes … there’s no downside to getting that information.”