On February 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded approximately $20 million to 11 organizations for the first year of a five-year program to provide on-the-ground training and education 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.
These local, experienced, community-based organizations will provide hands-on training to help thousands of small practices, especially those that practice in historically under-resourced areas including rural areas, health professional shortage areas, and medically underserved areas. The training and education resources will be available immediately, nationwide, and will be provided at no cost to eligible clinicians and practices.
“Clinicians in small and rural practices are critical to serving the millions of Americans across the nation who rely on Medicare for their health care,” said Dr. Kate Goodrich, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. “Congress, through the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, recognized the importance of small practices and rural practices and provided the funding for this assistance, so clinicians in these practices can navigate the new program, while being able to focus on what matters most -- the needs of their patients.”
The selected organizations will provide customized technical assistance to clinicians and practices to help them be successful in the Quality Payment Program. For example, clinicians will receive help choosing and reporting on quality measures, as well as guidance with all aspects of the program, including supporting change management and strategic planning and assessing and optimizing health information technology.
This funding is one part of a multi-level outreach effort to help clinicians understand and provide feedback about the new Quality Payment Program. Through webinars and in-person presentations, thousands have received free training and education from CMS staff since the Quality Payment Program Final Rule was released last October. In addition, 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, as well as the Alternative Payment Model track.
As part of that outreach effort, CMS also launched a new telephone helpline for clinicians seeking assistance with the Quality Payment Program. Clinicians may contact the Quality Payment Program by calling 1-866-288-8292 from 8AM – 8PM EST or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
CMS awarded contracts to the following organizations to provide the on-the-ground training and education to small practices:
- Georgia Medical Care Foundation (GMCF)
- Healthcentric Advisors
- Health Services Advisory Group (HSAG)
- Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI)
- Quality Insights (West Virginia Medical Institute)
- TMF Health Quality Institute