CMS Dept. has their own $10B Kickstarter Program for improving healthcare

Hat Tip To: 
Michael W.

Interesting story (originally via Kaiser Health News) about a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act which gives CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a sub-section of the HHS Dept.) a $10 billion R&D/incubator budget over a decade to try out different methods for delivering healthcare and payments in a more efficient manner:

The law created the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to launch experiments in every state, changing the way doctors and hospitals are paid, building networks between caregivers and training them to intervene before chronic illness gets worse.

One example: George Washington University's $1.9 million award to improve care and cut costs for at-home dialysis patients. Another: CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's $24 million grant to reduce unnecessary hospital visits for chronically ill Medicare patients.

The center's 10-year, $10 billion budget is the largest ever devoted to transforming care. In several states the office is working to overhaul medicine for nearly all residents -- not just those with government Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

Every few months it awards test grants of $3 million or $10 million each -- or sometimes tens of millions -- to community groups, clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, nursing homes and states. Its programs touch millions of patients. Hundreds of organizations have gotten money. More than $2 billion has been doled out or committed since 2011.

Plenty of skepticism about the program, of course, and I'm sure we'll hear the same tired old "government shouldn't pick winners & losers" slam even though that's what every investment in history amounts to. All innovation requires investments by someone without any guarantee of success, and lord knows the private, for-profit healthcare industry hasn't exactly been known for their "efficient" delivery of healthcare services (ask anyone who's had to fill out the same form a dozen times or spent an hour in customer service hell trying to clear up a billing dispute).