Senate GOP questions healthcare law’s $10B innovation center

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“We are concerned that at a time of at a time of significant uncertainty for the fiscal health of the U.S. government, funds are being expended by the Innovation Center with little to no actual value provided,” the senators wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Reducing health care costs is vital to preserving the solvency of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, but we are concerned that the Administration’s current approach, operating within the fee-for-service system, will not achieve the spending reductions necessary to meet this goal.”

The CMMI houses several of the administration’s most prominent efforts to move away from the fee-for-service system. The senators’ letter specifically asks for information about several CMMI demonstration programs that pay doctors to coordinate their services and focus on outcomes, rather than billing for each individual procedure they perform.

The senators asked HHS how much money it has spent on those initiatives, including Medicare’s bundled payments program and the effort to create new integrated health systems known as accountable care organizations. They also requested information about whether those programs have produced any savings yet and how HHS is evaluating their success or failure.

Some of CMMI’s work isn’t even off the ground yet — HHS only recently finalized the regulations governing accountable care organizations.

Hatch, Enzi and Coburn also asked the Government Accountability Office for a detailed investigation into how the CMMI has been implemented and how it interacts with other offices.

A Hatch spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about the letter and its timing. It was released shortly after HHS scheduled an “important announcement” Monday regarding the innovation center.