Accountable Health Communities--addressing social needs through Medicare and Medicaid
For decades, experts have described a profound imbalance between public funding of acute medical care and investments in upstream social and environmental determinants of health. By some estimates, more than 95% of the trillion dollars spent on health care in the United States each year funds direct medical services, even though 60% of preventable deaths are rooted in modifiable behaviors and exposures that occur in the community. To accelerate the development of a scalable delivery model for addressing upstream determinants of health for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, CMS recently announced a 5-year, $157 million program to test a model called Accountable Health Communities (AHC). Funded under the auspices of the CMS Innovation Center, the test will assess whether systematically identifying and addressing health-related social needs can reduce health care costs and utilization among community-dwelling Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.The AHC model reflects a growing emphasis on population health in CMS payment policy, which aims to support a transition from a health care delivery system to a true health system. The AHC test will improve our understanding of whether savings can materialize when upstream factors are addressed through collaboration among stakeholders who are accountable for the health and health care of their community.
Alley DE, Asomugha CN, Conway PH, Sanghavi DM. Accountable Health Communities--addressing social needs through Medicare and Medicaid. N Engl J Med. 2016;374(1):8-11. PMID:26731305. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1512532.