Federal payment model focuses on reducing cardiovascular risk

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced on May 28 a new payment model to decrease cardiovascular risk for Medicare beneficiaries.

"Rather than paying providers only on a piecemeal basis for every new test or visit, the payment model takes patients' whole health into consideration," Burwell said at the White House Conference on Aging in Boston. "It incentivizes providers to create a personalized score card based on his or her risk for a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years."

The Million Hearts Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction model aims to enroll 300,000 Medicare beneficiaries and 720 practices. Under the new system, providers will use predictive modeling to assess patients’ risk for a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years. They will also work with patients to identify the best approach to reduce the risk.

Providers will participate in the program for five years and receive money for reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke in their most at-risk patients. "They will be paid based on how successful they are," Burwell said. "Paying for quality instead of volume."

In a news release, the department stated that providers currently receive payment for meeting goals related to blood pressure, cholesterol and other targets.

The federal government’s Million Hearts Initiative aims to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Each year, approximately 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease, which costs an estimated $315.4 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.