TMF Health Quality Institute secures contract to provide support for small medical practices in CMS Quality Payment Program; AFMC and others to support TMF efforts in nine-state region

The Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC) is providing Quality Payment Program hands-on training and technical assistance to eligible Arkansas and Mississippi health care clinicians and physician practices as a result of funding awarded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Nationally, CMS awarded approximately $20 million to 11 organizations for the first year of a five-year program to provide direct, individualized training about the Quality Payment Program for clinicians in individual or small group practices of 15 clinicians or fewer. CMS intends to invest up to an additional $80 million over the remaining four years.

In Arkansas and Mississippi, this direct technical assistance will be provided by the AFMC through a subcontract with TMF Health Quality Institute, one of the 11 organizations receiving a CMS contract award.

Ray Hanley, president and CEO of AFMC, headquartered in Little Rock, said, “AFMC is excited to start this new work to help rural physicians be more effective and efficient. We have 45 years of experience helping physicians and small practices improve their quality of care, control costs and better engage patients in taking responsibility for their health. These practices are critical to serving the 607,800 Arkansans and 573,164 Mississippians who rely on Medicare for their health care.”

Technical assistance will help thousands of small practices across the country, especially those that practice in historically under-resourced areas including rural areas, health professional shortage areas and medically underserved areas. The training and educational resources will be available immediately, nationwide, and will be provided at no cost to eligible clinicians and practices.

AFMC has worked with TMF, a multistate, regional Quality Innovation Network (QIN) Quality Improvement Organization (QIO), for nearly three years to improve the quality of health care, control costs and more closely involve Arkansas Medicare patients in their health care.

Congress recognized the importance of small and rural practices by funding the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) to help clinicians navigate the new reimbursement model without losing focus on the needs of their patients.

Nationally, CMS is leading the transition to alternative payment models as a way to both improve health care and control its costs. Transitioning from the traditional fee-for-service reimbursement, CMS now reimburses a large part of Medicare services based on patient outcomes or value-based care. MACRA addresses the resources gap between large and small practices by helping to transform small practices so they can succeed in the value-based care environment.

AFMC expects to enroll 3,486 clinicians and 2,020 small practices in Arkansas and Mississippi. The organization will assess the unique needs of each clinician/practice, develop an individualized action plan and then provide customized technical assistance – all at no cost to the health care providers. Examples of this assistance include help choosing and reporting on quality measures, assessing and optimizing health information technology, and direct support in implementing change management and strategic planning.

AFMC will also provide an information technology (IT) specialist, who will assist clinicians in the nine-state region served by TMF with electronic health record vendor selection, health information technology interoperability, e-prescribing, Meaningful Use optimization, privacy and security assessments.

The Quality Payment Program is modernizing Medicare’s reimbursement system to provide better health care and control costs. Thousands have received free training and education from CMS staff since the Quality Payment Program began last October. Through the established Quality Innovation Networks, the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiatives and the Alternative Payment Model Learning Systems, every clinician in the Quality Payment Program can receive in-person training, including information about the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), as well as the Alternative Payment Model track.