Interested in payment reform? Mark your calendar for these events

If you cover health care payment reform, then you know that health insurers, states, and the Medicare program are all developing methods to replace fee-for-service payment. Some of the new payment methods are just being discussed, some are in the pilot-project stage, and some have a multi-year record. All aim to promote what’s called value-based payment, which is designed to get physicians and hospitals focused on improving quality while controlling costs.

For those of us who cover this angle of the health care beat, this week will be a good one to learn what’s happening with a variety of payment reform models. Four webinars on payment reform are scheduled this week: one today and three on Thursday, March 19. Here’s a brief rundown.

Global payment

On Tuesday, the consulting firm Avalere Health sponsored a webinar on global payment: “Tying Payment to Value: Lessons Learned from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ Alternative Quality Contract (AQC).”

AHCJ members may recall that BCBSMA President Andrew Dreyfus explained the AQC at Health Journalism 2013 in Boston. His presentation is available on the AHCJ site. Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, formerly a business reporter at the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette, attended Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-Healthier Beat Fellowship and wrote about his presentation. She now covers health care for The Boston Globe.

For this webinar, Dana Safran, Sc.D., BCBSMA’s senior vice president of performance measurement and improvement, was among five panelists. She has run the AQC program since its inception. Other panelists include Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., a senior fellow and director of the Health Care Innovation and Value Initiative at the Brookings Institution. He is also a former administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and former FDA commissioner. Other panelists are Bob Kocher, a partner with the venture capital firm Venrock; Dan Mendelson, Avalere chief executive and a company founder; and Josh Seidman, an Avalere vice president who earlier this month wrote about the ARQ at Avalere’s web site.

To see the recording of the webinar, journalists can call or send an email to Amy Martin Vogt at 202-745-5052 or

Addressing Social Determinants of Health 

Academy Health is hosting a series of webinars on payment reform, “Pushing the Boundaries: Emerging Innovations in Payment and Delivery System Reform,” which will examine innovative models in population health. The first webinar, “Treating the Whole Patient: Addressing Social Determinants of Health,” is 2-3:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, and will focus on how payers are addressing the need to reform payment to promote better integration of health care and social services. One presenter will be Manik Bhat, chief executive of Healthify, a company that consults with health insurers and at-risk provider groups on the social needs of their patients. Also presenting is Rachel Meeks Cahill, policy director for Benefits Data Trust, a company that seeks to improve the efficiency of benefits enrollment for low-income Americans.

The next two webinars in the series will focus on how payment reform can support integrated behavioral health and primary care. “Payment to Support Integrated Behavioral Health and Primary Care” is 2:30-4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 14. “From Top to Bottom: Distributing the ‘Payment Underneath the Payment,’ ” is 2:30-4 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 18. Register for the webinars here.

All Payer Claims Databases

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on Thursday will host the first in a series of webinars on all payer claims databases, “Improving Cost Transparency and Quality of Care: All Payer Claims Databases (APCDs) Working for You”. When they work as designed, APCDs have the potential to promote payment reform by fostering competition over health care costs and quality.

The first webinar in the series, “Improving Data Quality for APCDs” is 2-3:30 pm EDT. Experts will discuss APCD data quality and improvement efforts and answer questions about how these efforts relate to health insurers and the states. Panel members include Bernie Inskeep, director of regulatory affairs for UnitedHealth Group; Karynlee Harrington, director of the Maine Quality Forum and Maine Health Data Organization; and Mary Taylor, a payer compliance expert. The moderator will be R. Adams Dudley, MD, director of the Center for Healthcare Value at the University of California, San Francisco. Register for the webinar here.

The final webinar on payment reform this week, “The Health Care Revolution No One’s Talking About: Changing How We Pay for Care,” will be 1-2 p.m. EDT on Thursday. It is sponsored by the USC Annenberg/California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships and the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation. Panelists include Dr. Arnold Milstein, director of the Clinical Excellence Research Center at Stanford University’s School of Medicine; Austin Frakt, PhD, professor and contributor to the New York Times’ The Upshot blog; and health journalist Jordan Rau of Kaiser Health News. Journalists can register for the webinar here.

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