- A group of major providers and insurers announced Wednesday that they have formed a coalition called the Health Care Transformation Task Force to shift 75% of their operations to contracts designed to improve quality and lower costs by 2020.
- The group includes the nation's largest non-profit, Ascension Health, as well as Trinity Health, Partners HealthCare, Advocate Health Care, Aetna, the Health Care Services Corp. (which runs five state Blue Cross plans), employers Caesars Entertainment and the Pacific Business Group on Health, and others.
- The coalition will work to create both policy proposals and private-sector initiatives, with an immediate focus on "improving the ACO model, developing common bundled payment framework and improving care for high-cost patients," according to the task force's website.
The raison d'etre of this coalition should give providers a reason to breath a (small) sigh of relief. One of the biggest challenges faced by hospitals and physicians alike in a post-ACA world is living with a foot in two worlds: both fee-for-service and value-based reimbursement. While public payers like Medicare may be (slowly, painfully) implementing standards that pay based on quality of care, the private sector was a little spottier. The Task Force claims that it "will seek to align private and public sector changes in the way providers are paid." This commitment to unifying national payment models has got to be encouraging to caregivers.
Like HHS' announcement on Monday that it will push for 50% of payments for traditional Medicare benefits to be tied to alternative payment models by the end of 2018, this announcement is still just words. The Medicare announcement has already been criticized for lacking details; this Task Force could run into the same censure.
"It's really easy to agree on the big-picture stuff, but it gets more complicated when you get into the details," Dr. Timothy Ferris, project head at Partners, told the New York Times.
"It's not as if we have a cookbook," said David Lansky, chief executive for the Pacific Business Group on Health.
That said, these are some big-name players, and perhaps the most important part of this pair of announcements is that all parties appear to be on the same page.
"We're very much aligned and share a common goal here," said Fran S. Soistman, an executive vice president for Aetna, adding that the Medicare announcement "bodes well" for the overall goal.