Unsure About Primary Care First? Webinar Explains New Model

January 03, 2020 08:00 am News Staff

Physicians have until Jan. 22 to apply for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation's new Primary Care First payment model,(innovation.cms.gov) and the AAFP has partnered with other physician organizations to provide docs the information they need to determine whether to participate in the program.

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On Jan. 6, the AAFP, the American College of Physicians and the AMA co-hosted a free webinar -- Primary Care First Model: Interactive Office Hours With CMS  -- featuring guest speakers from CMMI. For those who couldn't join the live event, an archived version of the presentation is available online.

The webinar will detail components of the Primary Care First model, help physicians evaluate the impact of participating in the program and provide an opportunity for participants to hear answers from CMMI staff before the application deadline.

The new model uses prospective, risk-adjusted, population-based payments for primary care services, and AAFP analysis suggests that it is structurally sound and should work better than the Medicare Quality Payment Program's Merit-based Incentive Payment System, even for those getting the maximum MIPS bonus. But it won't be right for all practices; it appears likely to favor those that are good at scale and are well-informed about value-based payment and their patient populations.

Primary Care First isn't scheduled to launch until January 2021, but CMMI began accepting applications in October. Practices in 26 states and regions will be selected in spring 2020, with onboarding beginning in the summer. A second round is scheduled to begin in January 2022.

The AAFP also has developed other tools to help members assess a practice's readiness to participate in Primary Care First, addressing criteria that include care delivery capabilities, data infrastructure and potential financial impact. In addition, Shawn Martin, the AAFP's senior vice president of advocacy, practice advancement and policy, outlined key information about the program, including eligibility criteria and payment details, in a recent blog post.