News traveled fast about the formation of the Health Care Transformation Task Force, announced in January, by some of the biggest names in the industry: 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 group's primary purpose is to shift 75% of their operations to contracts designed to improve quality and lower costs by 2020, by improving the ACO model, developing a common bundled payment framework and improving care for high-cost patients.
These are big, overarching goals—so the Task Force has broken up into several smaller workgroups focused on different areas. These groups, which plan to meet regularly, already have plans in place for how they will accomplish the bigger, more visionary goals.
"We want to reach critical mass—a tipping point, if you will—so that most, and eventually all, patients and families will benefit from aligning healthcare payment with quality and value," said Task Force member Debra Ness, president, National Partnership for Women & Families, in an e-mail to Healthcare Dive. "The commitment to shift 75% of operations to value-based payment will not only help Task Force participants figure out how to get there by 2020, we hope it also will spur other private sector entities to make this same transition."
Healthcare Dive spoke to a few members of Task Force workgroups to learn how they will be spending their time.
On bundled payments:
Steve Wiggins, chairman of Remedy Partners and a member of the Task Force's bundled payment group, says his group will work toward advancing the use of bundled payments in public and private health insurance programs.
"Initially, the workgroup will be a resource for gathering and distributing information and insights around bundled payment programs," Wiggins told Healthcare Dive in an e-mail. "There are many approaches that are being taken to defining episodes of care for use in bundled payment contracts. Most are proprietary frameworks... Our goal is to collectively assess these models and provide the healthcare community with a set of implementable solutions that represent both the consensus of 'best practice' as well as disclosure of alternatives to the curated set of principles and definitions."
Meanwhile, Emily Brower, executive director of accountable care programs for Atrius, says the Task Force's ACO workgroup will "pull from its four stakeholder groups to develop consensus around actionable recommendations."
For starters, this week the group plans to comment on CMS' proposed ACO rule and suggest changes to the Medicare ACO models.
"In the proposed rule, CMS has requested input on a number of components of the ACO models," Brower told Healthcare Dive. "We believe the changes we recommend—including [those] to beneficiary alignment, the financial benchmark and risk sharing, the quality measurement program and potential waivers—will offer a unique and helpful perspective as [they represent] a consensus position of all four stakeholder groups: payers, providers, purchasers, patients."
On high-cost patients:
Another big Task Force goal, improving the care for high-cost patients, is of utmost concern because one percent of patients utilize 40% of resources, says Task Force member Stuart Levine, chief innovation and clinical care officer at Blue Shield of California.
"The [Task Force's] high-cost patient workgroup will evaluate best practices and provide consensus recommendations on how to implement, scale, replicate and continually re-engineer these best practices," Levine said in an e-mail, noting that the work group will also take into account the other four Task Force stakeholder groups. "We will consider and provide recommendations that can be optimized across each medical neighborhood and community and adapted to meet the needs of local environments."