The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) signed into law on March 23, 2010 by President Obama is much more than health insurance reform. Touted by political pundits as nothing more than health insurance market reforms coupled with public and private coverage expansions, these prognostications have created confusion and misinformation about the breadth of transformational opportunities in the Act.
Opportunities for innovation and systems change abound in PPACA—all of which are to be based on evidence gleaned from best practices fueled by robust data and rigorous evaluation. Innovations include testing new models for how care is delivered and financed and providing incentives for realigning the content of health care in ways that more appropriately utilize the skills of a broad range of primary care practitioners working in teams to promote the health and well-being of their patients. Others include providing financial support to states to assess and plan for the health professions workforce of the future and opportunities to reform and “re-balance” systems of long-term care from those based in institutions to those based in the community. A new office is being established in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2011.
Colorado is well-poised to engage in the many and varied opportunities to re-form its delivery systems—from primary care to long-term care. There are many communities throughout our state that are already demonstrating best practice models from which to start this transformational process. Through the Center for the Study of the Safety Net, housed at CHI, the Institute is working with its safety net partners in communities throughout Colorado to document and disseminate learnings of what models work and under what circumstances based on community needs and preferences. In mid-August, CHI will be releasing the first in a series of publications about community best practices, Interdisciplinary Models of Primary Care. We hope you will join us in this dissemination of innovative efforts. Through our shared learning, much can be accomplished.