This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the first 26 Health Care Innovation grants that have been awarded, including to two National Council member organizations, Kitsap Mental Health Services in Kitsap County, Washington and the Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio, Texas.
Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, the awards will support 26 innovative projects nationwide that will save money, deliver high quality medical care and enhance the health care workforce. The preliminary awardees expect to reduce health spending by $254 million over the next 3 years. The new projects include collaborations of leading hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technology innovators, community-based organizations, and patients’ advocacy groups, among others, located in urban and rural areas that will begin work this year to address health care issues in local communities. This initiative allows applicants to come up with their best ideas to test how we can quickly and efficiently improve the quality and affordability of health care.
A number of the innovation projects focus on primary and behavioral health care integration; in this first announcement, these projects include:
- Kitsap Mental Health Services: Kitsap Mental Health Services of Kitsap County, Washington (a National Council member organization), is receiving an award to integrate care for one thousand severely mentally ill or severely emotionally disturbed adults and children, many of them Medicare, Medicaid, and/or CHIP beneficiaries, with at least one co-morbidity.
- Center for Health Care Services: The Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio, Texas (a National Council member organization), is receiving an award to integrate behavioral care and health care for a group approximately 260 homeless adults in San Antonio with severe mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders, at risk for chronic physical diseases.
- Courage Center: The Courage Center is a program in Minneapolis-St. Paul serving adults with disabilities and complex medical conditions. The grant will enable Courage Center to save money and improve the quality of care by creating a patient-centered medical home focused on highest-cost Medicaid patients.
Preliminary awardees were chosen for their innovative solutions to the health care challenges facing their communities and for their focus on creating a well-trained health care workforce that is equipped to meet the need for new jobs in the 21st century health system. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the health care and social assistance sector will gain the most jobs between now and 2020.
The first batch of awards total $122.6 million. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at HHS administers the awards through cooperative agreements over 3 years. More information about the first 26 sites is available online. The next batch of preliminary awardees will be announced in early June 2012.