Primary care practices will soon be able to receive improved Medicare payments beginning next year through new payment models.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement at the AMA’s Washington Office during a meeting to discuss primary care delivery. He noted that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) will be inviting primary care practices to participate in 5 new alternative payment models that will allow primary care practices to provide new types of services to their patients that are not supported by current Medicare payments.

It has been demonstrated that primary care practices that provide more convenient access, enhanced care management for patients with chronic diseases, in-home services for patients with acute conditions, and palliative care for patients with advanced illnesses can significantly improve the quality of care for patients while reducing total health care spending. These new payment models have the potential to allow more primary care physicians to deliver these services to their patients while also saving money for the Medicare program.

The AMA also commended Secretary Azar for basing the new payment models on proposals developed by practicing physicians and incorporating recommendations from the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC). 

“Providing adequate financial support for high quality primary care must be an essential element of any strategy to improve the quality and affordability of our country’s healthcare system, Gerald E. Harmon, MD, Immediate Past Chair of the AMA Board of Trustees said in a press release about the announcement. “Many primary care physicians have been struggling to deliver the care their patients need and to financially sustain their practices under current Medicare payments. The new primary care payment models announced today will provide practices with more resources and more flexibility to deliver the highest-quality care to their patients.”