CMS, HHS Set Focus on Patients' Access to Primary Care

Federal agencies remain committed to increase patients' access to affordable, high quality, and comprehensive healthcare.

Federal agencies remain committed to increase patients’ access to affordable, high quality, and comprehensive healthcare. Increasing patient access to primary care is a particularly important component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as many patients have difficulty reaching a provider when they require standard medical care.

The CMS announced that it would conduct its 1st nationwide research project —utilizing a modified version of the Adult Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) questionnaire — to determine the ease at which Medicare beneficiaries are able to find providers. They will also analyze the influence that fee-for-service or managed care reimbursement models have on beneficiary access. CMS will use the questionarie as a way to collect and analyze Medicare patient data as it varies state to state.

“The CAHPS survey will provide states, other stakeholders, as well as CMCS, with uniform national and state-specific data on the health care experiences of the non-institutionalized adult Medicaid population, thus helping to inform quality improvement efforts,” read the announcement. “The survey will produce measures of access, barriers to care, satisfaction with providers, and customer service ratings, as well as indicators of the experiences of adult Medicaid enrollees who obtain care from managed care or fee-for-service providers.”

HHS also said it would provide $100 million in ACA funding to support an estimated 150 new health centers throughout the United States in 2015. This funding will provide patients with greater access to care in a variety of communities that currently lack these much-needed health centers.

“In communities across the country, Americans turn to their local Community Health Center for vital health care services that help them lead healthy, productive lives,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “That’s why it’s so important that the Affordable Care Act is supporting the expansion of health centers.”

Increasing patient access and standardizing care, especially among vulnerable patient populations, can help to reduce disparities in care delivery. It can also reduce costs, as patients are able to avoid emergency department visits or lengthy hospitalization.

Around the Web

Can Medicaid Beneficiaries Find a Doctor? The CMS Wants to Know [Modern Healthcare]

CMCS Informational Bulletin [CMS]

HHS Announces the Availability of $100 Million in Affordable Care Act Funding [HHS]