The Affordable Care Act is already improving health care for many seniors, thanks to a little-known provision: the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative. (More)

Ms. Crissie no longer visits Daily Kos and I usually don’t either. While many people there are nice, there are a few people who are pretty much the mirror image of my research in 21st Century Political Nuttitude. Those few people also tend to be very … noisy … so I find it’s better to avoid them. But I sometimes visit if I see an interesting link in my Twitter feed, and this one got my attention:

Needless to say, I click-skippety-jumped over and found this very detailed and encouraging story:

[T]here is a smaller part of the ACA that has potentially far-reaching effects on all of primary care, and I’ve hardly heard a thing about it in the media. It is helping primary care physicians transform how we deliver care to our population of patients and it is actually kind of exciting.

Read on if you’re interested in hearing a little more about the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative that just might save lives, provide better care, increase satisfaction for patients, doctors and their staffs, and might also gasp save a bunch of money.

The Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative was launched two years ago yesterday, on October 28, 2011. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website offers a good summary:

The Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) initiative is a multi-payer initiative fostering collaboration between public and private health care payers to strengthen primary care. Medicare will work with commercial and State health insurance plans and offer bonus payments to primary care doctors who better coordinate care for their patients. Primary care practices that choose to participate in this initiative will be given resources to better coordinate primary care for their Medicare patients.

As Daily Kos’ THirt – a primary care physician – explains:

Basically, CMS (center for Medicare and Medicaid services) provides funding outside of the fee-for-service environment for practices to do a better job of chronic disease management. There is/was a detailed application process, and multiple milestones you have to meet, but a lot of it boils down to CMS providing additional monies for practices to use as they see fit in order to help improve the care for their patients, particularly (although not exclusively) those with higher risk chronic illness.
However, and this is a BIG part, the money from this CPC initiative can NOT be paid to physicians as compensation. It is to be used to improve infrastructure. This is actually pretty cool because instead of just paying doctors more and saying, “hey, if we pay you more, you’ll do a better job, right?”, CMS is saying, “we will give you money to use as you see fit (within the structure of our program and its milestones) to improve patient care which should improve outcomes, decrease severe complication rates, improve patient satisfaction, and eventually decrease overall costs through an investment up front.”

In other words, this program helps primary care physicians set up systems to better manage Medicare patients, so those patients can stay healthy and need fewer hospital visits. The CMS has a PDF with cool charts that explain the process. So far the program has 497 primary care facilities in eight states, with 2437 providers serving an estimated 315,000 Medicare patients.

Even better, the folks at CMS gather and compare the treatment data from the doctors in the program, to help develop better, more efficient primary care practices based on extensive, clinical evidence. In time, that will help not only the seniors whose doctors are in this program, but anyone who goes to a primary care doctor. Which is … pretty much everyone.

On the one paw, I’m kind of grouchy because this successful program hasn’t received any media attention. On the other paw, maybe this has been able to work because Republicans haven’t noticed it. As we saw with Michael Grunwald’s The New New Deal, President Obama and our government get their best work done when Republicans don’t know about it and thus don’t muck it up. So here’s to quiet successes.

Good day and good nuts.