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West Health comments on changes to CMS’ Innovation Center

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November 21, 2017
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November 20, 2017
Seema Verma, Administrator
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
Submitted electronically via CMMI NewDirection@cms.hhs.gov

RE: Innovation Center New Direction – Request for Information

Dear Ms. Verma,

The Gary and Mary West Health Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan applied medical research organization dedicated to enabling successful aging for seniors, appreciates the opportunity to respond to your request for information on the agency’s planned new direction for the Innovation Center and its opportunities to deliver new delivery and payment care models for Medicare beneficiaries.

General Sentiments
West Health’s mission is to enable seniors to successfully age in place, with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. To realize this goal, West Health engages in research to develop data and systematically apply statistical and/or logical analytics to illustrate and evaluate how geriatric-specific acute and chronic integrated care models can help seniors age successfully age-in-place. Similar to CMS’ Innovation Center, West Health has retained a talented and diverse group of researchers and professionals across healthcare delivery, policy, social science, data science, and medical professions, that continually explore opportunities to improve acute care for seniors in the emergency department, home, and community; chronic care settings for older adults that may need care at home; and supportive services, in order to avoid or reduce institutional care settings.

It is no secret that current projections for Medicare’s financial solvency and the growing proportion of our nation’s economy on healthcare puts the Medicare program in a state of extreme crisis. Medicare trustees and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO} project Medicare spending to reach $1 trillion dollars by 2022, while tax-paying workers per beneficiary continue to decline. General tax revenues are paying for a growing share of Medicare spending, which takes away from other important federal spending needs, including education and infrastructure. Thus, the Innovation Center must be poised to demand efficiency, forwarding payment and delivery models that encourage value over volume. With new, thoughtful approaches to healthcare delivery and appropriate scaling of innovative models, including those fostered by West Health’s applied medical research, solving the crisis is possible.