HHS to award $500M to improve care

Funds are through Affordable Care Act

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in late June 2011, that it would provide $500 million in Partnership for Patients funding to help hospitals, health care provider organizations, and others improve their efforts to prevent injuries and complications related to health care acquired conditions and unnecessary readmissions.

The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and it will be awarded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center.

The CMS Innovation Center will seek contracts with local and statewide entities that can support hospitals' efforts to improve health care and reduce risk for patients.

The Partnership for Patients is a new public-private partnership that was created to improve quality, safety, and affordability of health care for all Americans. Its chief goals are as follows:

• Reduce harm in hospital settings by 40%;

• Reduce hospital readmissions by 20% over a three-year period.

Health care systems, associations, state organizations, and other groups will work with the Partnership for Patients to redesign care processes in an effort to achieve these goals.

Designated hospital engagement contractors will be asked to conduct the following:

• Design intensive programs to teach and support hospitals in making care safer.

• Conduct training for hospitals and care providers.

• Provide technical assistance for hospitals and care providers.

• Establish and implement a system to track and monitor hospital progress in meeting quality improvement goals.

CMS will work with hospital engagement contractors and other contractors to develop ideas and practices that will improve patient safety in various areas, such improving patient safety and transitions between health care settings. An example would be when a patient is transferred from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility.

These contracts will amount to $500 million, and solicitations for proposals are available on the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fbo.gov.

When President Obama first announced committing $1 billion in Affordable Care Act funding to achieve the patient safety goals, $500 million was made available through the Community-based Care Transitions Program to ensure patients safely transition between settings of care. The $500 million in Partnership for Patients funding is additional money to help reduce health care acquired conditions and reduce unnecessary readmissions.