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Center of Medicare Director Jonathan Blum visits Christiana Care to speak about accountable care organizations

Jonathan Blum visiting Christiana Hospital

Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director for the Center of Medicare at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, toured Christiana Care and spoke about accountable care organizations, which are a new form of payment and care delivery model that is being tested as a way to increase quality and reduce cost in health care.

Christiana Care hosted Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director for the Center of Medicare at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to speak about accountable care organizations on Monday, Jan. 30.

Blum is responsible for overseeing the regulation and payment of Medicare fee-for-service providers, privately-administrated Medicare health plans, and the Medicare prescription drug program. He was invited to speak at the John H. Ammon Medical Education Center by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. Rita Landgraf, secretary of Delaware Health and Social Services, Delaware State Rep. Michael Barbieri and Bettina Riveros, Gov. Jack Markell’s policy adviser on health care, also were in attendance.

Blum also met with Christiana Care’s senior leaders for lunch and was given a tour of Christiana Hospital from the perspective of a patient with cardiac problems. Blum visited the trauma bays at the Emergency Department, followed by entry to the Heart & Vascular Interventional Services on the second floor, where cardiac catheterization would be performed.

“We wanted to show him how we would provide care for a patient during the tour, rather than simply just showing him the facilities,” said Janice Nevin, M.D., the chief medical officer for Christiana Care. “Mr. Blum was very interested in understanding what the providers are experiencing in this current environment.”

Upon completion of the tour, Blum gave an overview on accountable care organizations to about 40 Delaware health care stakeholders—comprised largely of leaders of several Delaware health systems and federally-qualified health centers.

An accountable care organization (ACO) is a type of payment and delivery reform model that links provider reimbursements to quality metrics and reductions in the total cost of care for an assigned population of patients. A group of coordinated health care providers—which can include doctors, hospitals, nursing homes—form an ACO, which then provides care to the group of patients. Thirty-two health systems have been selected by CMS to participate as pioneer accountable care organizations. Blum noted that these systems were able to qualify because they already have experience in population health, pay-for-performance and risk-based reimbursement.

“What we heard underscores the message that if we are going to be able to position ourselves for the future, we need to continue to design and experiment with projects built on the principles of an accountable care organization,” Nevin said.

Photo gallery: Jonathan Blum visits Christiana Care

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