CMS approves 500 FQHCs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in late October 2011 that 500 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) were selected for the FQHC advanced primary care practice (APCP) demonstration project. The goal is to evaluate the effect of an advanced primary care practice model, called the patient-centered medical home, on improving health, quality and coordination of care, and lowering the cost of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

Funded through the Affordable Care Act, the CMS Innovation Center will offer technical support to providers to improve their coordination of care and spread to others the lessons and best practices they’ve learned.

The APCP demonstration will assess the effect of Medicare paying a care coordination fee to participating FQHC practices for all care coordination and management services. The APCPs are required to offer enhanced access to care through expanded hours, same-day appointments, or priority appointments so patients do not need to seek more costly urgent care services. Also, the APCPs will use a team approach, including nurse coordinators, physician assistants, pharmacists, and social workers, to coordinate health care and other services. A physician or nurse practitioner oversee all services.

FQHCs can access core training modules on topics essential to performing as a patient-centered medical home, including patient-centered care, team-based delivery, use of data/performance feedback for continuous quality improvement, and improving care transitions.

Participating FQHCs will be required to implement practice changes necessary to transform into advanced primary care practices, and CMS will monitor each center’s transformative progress by comparing readiness assessment scores at baseline with readiness assessment scores updated every six months.

For more information about medical homes or the program, visit the Innovation Center online at http://innovations.cms.gov/.