WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fourteen community health centers in Maine have been chosen to participate in the Advanced Primary Care Practice pilot program created by the Affordable Care Act.
“The program changes how community health centers are reimbursed for the care they provide to Medicare patients by providing new incentives to keep patients healthier,” Rep. Mike Michaud said in a press release issued Tuesday.
“This critical investment will allow our community health centers to provide the best quality health care services to Mainers,” Michaud said. “The findings from this pilot program will help providers keep patients healthier in the long term and lower costs in the health care system overall.”
The health centers chosen are Fish River Rural Health in Eagle Lake; Health Access Network, Inc. in Medway; HealthReach Community Health Care centers in Bingham, Madison, Kingsfield, Rangeley, Strong and Livermore Falls; Katahdin Valley Health Centers in Island Falls and Patten; Sebasticook Family Doctors in Canaan, Dexter and Pittsfield and St. Croix Regional Family Health in Princeton.
The program urges a team approach to have doctors, hospitals and other health care providers work together to better coordinate care for Medicare patients. During the three year program, the centers will be provided an additional reimbursement for the coordinated care in an effort to keep patients from seeking more expensive emergency room care.
The goal is to provide services to treat patients from head to toe, said Robin Winslow, CEO of Sebasticook Family Doctors.
“It will help us assess our quality of care and reduce costs while increasing quality,” said Winslow.
“Through this program, they’re going to be paying us so much per Medicare patient per month,” said Winslow. “If they see that it does reduce the cost, then they’ll keep that per-patient fee coming.”
By enlisting in the program, health centers agree to pursue Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance by the end of the demonstration. Level 3 is the highest achievable recognition for a medical group.
Norman Fournier, CEO of Fish River Rural Health in Fort Kent and Eagle Lake, was happy to see the Eagle Lake location on the list.
“We’re excited that we were selected,” said Fournier, who added that the purpose of the project is to get the health centers certified as medical homes.
“We’re going to have a case manager who makes sure the patient is followed at every point at the delivery of care,” he said. “It improves patient care and it will be more patient-oriented than in the past. It basically improves patient health and satisfaction.”