April 20, 3:40 p.m. News Staff ― In an email sent April 18, CMS announced that it had extended the deadline for interested practices to apply to participate in the second cohort of the Primary Care First advanced alternative payment model from April 30 to May 21. Practices selected to participate in Cohort 2 will begin their five-year performance period in January 2022.
According to a CMS fact sheet, PCF is a voluntary AAPM for primary care that the agency’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation rolled out last year. The model is designed to test whether using financial risk and performance-based payments to reward primary care physicians and other health professionals can reduce Medicare expenditures, preserve or even enhance quality of care, and improve patient health outcomes.
CMS acknowledges on its website that primary care is central to a high-functioning health care system and therefore must be supported and strengthened. The PCF model aims to do that by utilizing an innovative payment structure that incentivizes delivery of high-quality, advanced primary care that prioritizes patients. It is thought that this focus on the clinician-patient relationship ― along with greater flexibility in care delivery ― allows physicians to spend more time addressing their beneficiaries’ chronic conditions early on, thus mitigating the risk of costly hospital visits.
For the purposes of the model, CMS identifies eligible health care professionals as those practicing internal medicine, general medicine, geriatric medicine, family medicine, and/or hospice and palliative medicine. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the request for applications to be selected for participation in the model.
Cohort 2 will encompass the same 26 states and regions that were covered in the first cohort. Currently, 827 practices across the country are participating in Cohort 1.
Physicians who want to learn more about the model will have a chance to pose queries to CMMI staff during an upcoming interactive webinar. The hourlong session for practices will be held on May 5 at 3 p.m. CDT. Registration for the event is now open.
Those considering whether to participate can also review materials from two PCF webinars held last month: Introduction to PCF and Ready, Set, Apply! In addition, the AAFP offers the following tools family physicians can use to assess their practice’s readiness to participate in PCF, including evaluating care delivery capabilities, data infrastructure and potential financial impact: