Primary Care First Model Options is a set of voluntary five-year payment options that reward value and quality by offering an innovative payment structure to support delivery of advanced primary care. In response to input from primary care clinician stakeholders, Primary Care First is based on the underlying principles of the existing CPC+ model design: prioritizing the doctor-patient relationship; enhancing care for patients with complex chronic needs and high need, seriously ill patients, reducing administrative burden, and focusing financial rewards on improved health outcomes.
Primary Care First Model Options will be offered in 26 regions for a 2021 start date: Alaska (statewide), Arkansas (statewide), California (statewide), Colorado (statewide), Delaware (statewide), Florida (statewide), Greater Buffalo region (New York), Greater Kansas City region (Kansas and Missouri), Greater Philadelphia region (Pennsylvania), Hawaii (statewide), Louisiana (statewide), Maine (statewide), Massachusetts (statewide), Michigan (statewide), Montana (statewide), Nebraska (statewide), New Hampshire (statewide), New Jersey (statewide), North Dakota (statewide), North Hudson-Capital region (New York), Ohio and Northern Kentucky region (statewide in Ohio and partial state in Kentucky), Oklahoma (statewide), Oregon (statewide), Rhode Island (statewide), Tennessee (statewide), and Virginia (statewide).
Primary care is central to a high-functioning healthcare system and thus, there is an urgent need to preserve and strengthen primary care as well as a need for support of serious illness care services for Medicare beneficiaries.
Primary Care First addresses these needs by creating a seamless continuum of care and accommodates a continuum of interested providers. The payment options test whether delivery of advanced primary care can reduce total cost of care, accommodating practices at multiple stages of readiness to assume accountability for patient outcomes. Primary Care First will focus on advanced primary care practices ready to assume financial risk in exchange for reduced administrative burdens and performance-based payments.
Thorough a second payment model option, Primary Care First also encourages advanced primary care practices, including providers whose clinicians are enrolled in Medicare who typically provide hospice or palliative care services, to take responsibility for high need, seriously ill beneficiaries who currently lack a primary care practitioner and/or effective care coordination—population groups referred to under the model as the Seriously Ill Population or SIP.
Primary Care First prioritizes patients by emphasizing the doctor-patient relationship. The model aims to improve the experience for beneficiaries by reducing administrative burdens so practitioners can spend more time with patients. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will prioritize patient choice in the assignment of Medicare beneficiaries to Primary Care First practices.
Primary Care First reflects a regionally-based, multi-payer approach to care delivery and payment. Primary Care First fosters practitioner independence by increasing flexibility for primary care, providing participating practitioners with the freedom to innovate their care delivery approach based on their unique patient population and resources. Primary Care First rewards participants with additional revenue for taking on limited risk based on easily understood, actionable outcomes.
In Primary Care First, CMS will use a focused set of clinical quality and patient experience measures to assess quality of care delivered at the practice. A Primary Care First practice must meet standards that reflect quality care in order to be eligible for a positive performance-based adjustment to their primary care revenue. These measures were selected to be actionable, clinically meaningful, and aligned with CMS’s broader quality measurement strategy. Measures include a patient experience of care survey, controlling high blood pressure, diabetes hemoglobin A1c poor control, colorectal cancer screening, and advance care planning.
CMS will assess quality of care based on a focused set of measures that are clinically meaningful for patients with complex, chronic needs and the serious illness population.
Primary Care First aims to improve quality, improve patient experience of care, and reduce expenditures. The model will achieve these aims by increasing patient access to advanced primary care services, and has elements specifically designed to support practices caring for patients with complex chronic needs or serious illness. The specific approaches to care delivery will be determined by practice priorities. Practices will be incentivized to deliver patient-centered care that reduces acute hospital utilization. Primary Care First is oriented around comprehensive primary care functions: (1) access and continuity; (2) care management; (3) comprehensiveness and coordination; (4) patient and caregiver engagement; and (5) planned care and population health.
Primary Care First aims to be transparent, simple, and hold practitioners accountable by:
- Providing payment to practices through a simple payment structure, including:
- a payment mechanism that allows care to be driven by clinicians rather than administrative requirements and revenue cycle management;
- a population-based payment to provide more flexibility in the provision of patient care along with a flat primary care visit fee; and
- a performance based adjustment providing an upside of up to 50% of revenue as well as a small downside (10% of revenue) incentive to reduce costs and improve quality, assessed and paid quarterly.
- Providing practice participants with performance transparency, through practitioner-identifiable information on their own and other practice participants’ performance to enable and motivate continuous improvement.
Primary Care First provides the tools and incentives for practices to provide comprehensive and continuous care, with a goal of reducing patients’ complications and overutilization of higher cost settings, leading to higher quality of care and reduced spending.
The general Primary Care First payment model option is designed for primary care practices with advanced primary care capabilities that are prepared to accept increased financial risk in exchange for flexibility and potential rewards based on practice performance. Eligible applicants are primary care practices that:
- Are located in one of the selected Primary Care First regions.
- Include primary care practitioners (MD, DO, CNS, NP, and PA), certified in internal medicine, general medicine, geriatric medicine, family medicine, and hospice and palliative medicine.
- Provide primary care health services to a minimum of 125 attributed Medicare beneficiaries at a particular location
- Have primary care services account for at least 70% of the practices’ collective billing based on revenue. In the case of a multi-specialty practice, 70% of the practice’s eligible primary care practitioners’ combined revenue must come from primary care services.
- Have experience with value-based payment arrangements or payments based on cost, quality, and/or utilization performance such as shared savings, performance-based incentive payments, and episode-based payments, and/or alternative to fee-for-service payments such as full or partial capitation.
- Use 2015 Edition Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT), support data exchange with other providers and health systems via Application Programming Interface (API), and connect to their regional health information exchange (HIE).
- Attest via questions in the Practice Application to a limited set of advanced primary care delivery capabilities, such as 24/7 access to a practitioner or nurse call line and empanelment of patients to a practitioner or care team.
- Can meet the requirements of the Primary Care First Participation Agreement
Eligible practitioners (that each practice applicant must identify by NPI in its application) are those in internal medicine, general medicine, geriatric medicine, family medicine, and/or hospice and palliative medicine. CMS may reject an application on the basis of the results of a program integrity screening.
CMS will also encourage other payers – including Medicare Advantage Plans, commercial health insurers, Medicaid managed care plans, and State Medicaid agencies – to align payment, quality measurement, and data sharing with CMS in support of Primary Care First practices.
Seriously Ill Population Option Participation
CMS will attribute Seriously Ill Population (SIP) patients lacking a primary care practitioner or care coordination to Primary Care First practices that specifically opt to participate in this payment model option. Practices may limit their participation in Primary Care First to exclusively caring for SIP patients, but in order to do so, such practices must demonstrate in their applications that they have a network of relationships with other care organizations in the community to ensure that beneficiaries can access the care best suited to their longer-term needs.
To participate in the SIP payment model option, practices that demonstrate relevant capabilities and care experience in their application will have the option when they apply to agree to be attributed and furnish services to the SIP patients that CMS identifies in their service area who express interest in the model. These practices will then be responsible for reaching out to these patients with a focus on ensuring that there care is coordinated and that SIP patients are clinically stabilized. Practices will also be allowed on a case-by-case basis to accept patients into SIP who are referred to the practice and deemed eligible by CMS.
Payment for SIP patients differs from that established under the general payment option for Primary Care First. Payment amounts for SIP patients will be set to reflect the high need, high risk nature of the population as well as include an increase or decrease in payment based on quality.
Clinicians enrolled in Medicare who typically provide hospice or palliative care services (e.g., those affiliated with a hospice, palliative care or similar organization) are eligible to care exclusively for SIP patients, either by participating in the model as a practice or by partnering with a Primary Care First participating practice that includes these practitioners on its practitioner roster.
The application period for practices applying to begin participation in the model in January 2021 will open on October 24, 2019 and close on January 22, 2020.
During the first six weeks of this application period to December 6, 2019, payers will separately have the option to submit a non-binding Statement of Interest form (PDF) signaling their interest in partnering in Primary Care First. At the end of the practice application period, payers that submitted a Statement of Interest form will receive information from CMS about how many practices submitted applications, by region and county. The solicitation period for payers will formally begin six weeks after the start of the practice application period, on December 9, 2019, and will close on March 13, 2020. This timeline will allow payers to clearly assess where there is likely to be high practice participation in Primary Care First, and make an informed decision about regions in which to develop their own aligned approaches as payer partners. CMS is interested in whether this approach can better align practices with payers who are willing to implement an approach that is aligned with the Primary Care First model.
Practice and payer selections will take place in Winter-Spring 2020. The model will begin in January 2021. CMS will focus on onboarding participating practices and payer partners to the model from July-December 2020.
Stay up to date on the latest Primary Care First Model Options updates by subscribing to the PCF Model Options listserv.
Information for Interested Stakeholders
- Application Webinar (October 30, 2019)
- Seriously Ill Population (SIP) Part II Webinar (October 31, 2019)
CMS hosted webinars on the following dates for interested stakeholders:
- Information Webinar Series (April 30 & May 16, 2019)
- Payment Webinar (June 27, 2019)
- Seriously Ill Population Webinar (July 24, 2019)
- Payment Office Hours (August 6, 2019)
For questions about the model or solicitation process, please email PrimaryCareApply@telligen.com or call 1-833-226-7278.