Patients Win as Safety-Net Health Centers Embrace Bold New Payment Strategies

Providers of medical services have been changing the way they think about patient care and seizing new opportunities to touch patients’ lives. In Sonoma and Napa Counties in Northern California, a group of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) has taken advantage of new payment strategies offered by the federal government to form a Medicare accountable care organization, or ACO, called the Redwood Community Care Organization. ACOs operate under a new payment philosophy that encourages doctors and hospitals to keep better tabs on patients between visits. The goal is to improve patients’ long-term health status and reward providers by sharing savings generated from coordinated care.

Redwood embraced an ACO model of value-based payment called the Medicare Shared Savings Program. More than 400 organizations nationwide participate in the program, but only eight are organized around FQHCs, primary care clinics dedicated to serving people who are uninsured or who have low incomes. At last count, 8,500 beneficiaries were assigned to Redwood’s ACO, which includes 32 clinic sites operated by six different health centers.

“FQHC-led ACOs may be few and far between, but this unique group can provide valuable insight into the benefits and challenges of merging two distinct worlds: the safety-net sector and ambitious value-based payment initiatives,” said Naomi Fuchs, chief executive officer of both the ACO and Santa Rosa Community Health Centers.

Read the complete story on Medium.

Hear more about how Redwood used Medicare total cost of care data to better manage patients in a webinar with Naomi Fuchs hosted by the California Health Care Foundation’s California Improvement Network.

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