News Feature | March 17, 2016

CMS Launches Medicaid Interoperability Initiative

Medicaid ACO

Move is anticipated to increase provider connectivity and improve sustainability of HIEs.

A new initiative to modernize and connect the Medicaid program was recently announced in a joint blog by CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt and Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and HHS Acting Assistant Secretary. Under the new initiative, states may request the 90 percent enhanced matching funds from CMS to connect a wider variety of Medicaid providers, including long-term care, behavioral health, and substance abuse treatment centers, to a health information exchange. The move is anticipated to both increase connectivity among Medicaid providers and improve the sustainability of health information exchanges.

According to the blog post, the initiative is not just about technology, but about better serving Medicaid beneficiaries and improving population health. It underscores the flow of information physicians depend upon in making decisions is hampered when not all physicians and practice areas are connected.

In order to create more seamless, complete, and timely data exchange — as well as allow providers to determine the best treatment plans for their Medicaid patients — the initiative aims to expand the umbrella to include behavioral health and substance abuse treatment providers.

“Today’s announcement is another example of how Medicaid is leading change for its beneficiaries and throughout the health care system,” Slavitt and DeSalvo wrote in the blog post. “It is part of a comprehensive effort to make sure that the 72 million adults, children, seniors and people with disabilities served by the Medicaid program have access to high quality, coordinated care.

“The benefits are tangible — from care coordination to medication reconciliation to public health reporting. Exchanging care information can support patients with multiple chronic conditions as they navigate specialists, hospitals, primary care, home health care, and pharmacies. Medication reconciliation for children in the foster care system avoids duplicative or missed treatments. And, public health reporting sounds the warning bell on potential public health disasters and improves the use of preventive measures, such as immunizations. This investment should also speed the adoption of alternative payment models that focus on the quality rather than the quantity of care provided. As the Medicaid program moves towards paying for quality, technology infrastructure and information exchange is needed for better care coordination.”

The announcement follows the distribution of a letter from Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) Vikki Wachino to state Medicaid directors informing them that CMS can now provide states with 90 percent matching federal funds for these providers.