On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law comprehensive health care reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Part five of the AASM’s health reform overview series focuses on Improving Quality/Health System Performance and Prevention/Wellness.

Improving Quality/Health System Performance

  • Comparative effectiveness research
    Support comparative effectiveness research by establishing a non-profit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to identify research priorities and conduct research that compares the clinical effectiveness of medical treatments. The Institute will be overseen by an appointed multi-stakeholder Board of Governors and will be assisted by expert advisory panels. Findings from comparative effectiveness research may not be construed as mandates, guidelines, or recommendations for payment, coverage, or treatment or used to deny coverage.
  • Medical malpractice
    Award five-year demonstration grants to states to develop, implement, and evaluate alternatives to current tort litigations. Preference will be given to states that have developed alternatives in consultation with relevant stakeholders and that have proposals that are likely to enhance patient safety by reducing medical errors and adverse events and are likely to improve access to liability insurance.
  • Medicare
    Establish a national Medicare pilot program to develop and evaluate paying a bundled payment for acute, inpatient hospital services, physician services, outpatient hospital services, and post-acute care services for an episode of care that begins three days prior to a hospitalization and spans 30 days following discharge. If the pilot program achieves stated goals of improving or not reducing quality and reducing spending, develop a plan for expanding the pilot program. (Establish pilot program by January 1, 2013; expand program, if appropriate, by January 1, 2016)

    Create the Independence at Home demonstration program to provide high-need Medicare beneficiaries with primary care services in their home and allow participating teams of health professionals to share in any savings if they reduce preventable hospitalizations, prevent hospital readmissions, improve health outcomes, improve the efficiency of care, reduce the cost of health care services, and achieve patient satisfaction. (Effective January 1, 2012)

    Establish a hospital value-based purchasing program in Medicare to pay hospitals based on performance on quality measures and extend the Medicare physician quality reporting initiative beyond 2010. Develop plans to implement value-based purchasing programs for skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and ambulatory surgical centers.

  • Dual Eligibles
    Improve care coordination for dual eligibles by creating a new office within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, the Federal Coordinated Health Care Office, to more effectively integrate Medicare and Medicaid benefits and improve coordination between the federal government and states in order to improve access to and quality of care and services for dual eligibles.
  • Primary care
    Increase Medicaid payments in fee-for-service and managed care for primary care services provided by primary care doctors (family medicine, general internal medicine or pediatric medicine) to 100% of the Medicare payment rates for 2013 and 2014. States will receive 100% federal financing for the increased payment rates. (Effective January 1, 2013)
    Provide a 10% bonus payment to primary care physicians in Medicare from 2011 through 2015.
  • National quality strategy
    Develop a national quality improvement strategy that includes priorities to improve the delivery of health care services, patient health outcomes, and population health. Create processes for the development of quality measures involving input from multiple stakeholders and for selecting quality measures to be used in reporting to and payment under federal health programs. (National strategy due to Congress by January 1, 2011)

    Establish the Community-based Collaborative Care Network Program to support consortiums of health care providers to coordinate and integrate health care services, for low-income uninsured and underinsured populations. (Funds appropriated for five years beginning in FY 2011)

  • Financial disclosure
    Require disclosure of financial relationships between health entities, including physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, other providers, and manufacturers and distributors of covered drugs, devices, biologicals, and medical supplies. (Report due to Congress April 1, 2013)
  • Disparities
    Require enhanced collection and reporting of data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, disability status, and for underserved rural and frontier populations. Also require collection of access and treatment data for people with disabilities. Require the Secretary to analyze the data to monitor trends in disparities.


  • National strategy
    Establish the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council to coordinate federal prevention, wellness, and public health activities. Develop a national strategy to improve the nation’s health. Create a Prevention and Public Health Fund to expand and sustain funding for prevention and public health programs. Create task forces on Preventive Services and Community Preventive Services to develop, update, and disseminate evidenced-based recommendations on the use of clinical and community prevention services.

    Establish a Prevention and Public Health Fund for prevention, wellness, and public health activities including prevention research and health screenings, the Education and Outreach Campaign for preventive benefits, and immunization programs. Appropriate $7 billion in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2015 and $2 billion for each fiscal year after 2015.

    Establish a grant program to support the delivery of evidence-based and community-based prevention and wellness services aimed at strengthening prevention activities, reducing chronic disease rates and addressing health disparities, especially in rural and frontier areas.

  • Coverage of preventive services
    Eliminate cost-sharing for Medicare covered preventive services that are recommended (rated A or B) by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and waive the Medicare deductible for colorectal cancer screening tests. Authorize the Secretary to modify or eliminate Medicare coverage of preventive services, based on recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (Effective January 1, 2011) Provide states that offer Medicaid coverage of and remove cost-sharing for preventive services recommended (rated A or B) by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and recommended immunizations with a one percentage point increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for these services. (Effective January 1, 2013)

    Authorize Medicare coverage of personalized prevention plan services, including a comprehensive health risk assessment, annually. Require the Secretary to publish guidelines for the health risk assessment no later than March 23, 2011, and a health risk assessment model by no later than September 29, 2011. Reimburse providers 100% of the physician fee schedule amount with no adjustment for deductible or coinsurance for personalized prevention plan services when these services are provided in an outpatient setting. (Effective January 1, 2011)

    Provide incentives to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to complete behavior modification programs. (Effective January 1, 2011 or when program criteria is developed, whichever is first) Require Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation services for pregnant women. (Effective October 1, 2010)

    Require qualified health plans to provide at a minimum coverage without cost-sharing for preventive services rated A or B by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, recommended immunizations, preventive care for infants, children, and adolescents, and additional preventive care and screenings for women. (Effective six months following enactment)

  • Wellness programs
    Provide grants for up to five years to small employers that establish wellness programs.

    Provide technical assistance and other resources to evaluate employer-based wellness programs. Conduct a national worksite health policies and programs survey to assess employer-based health policies and programs. (Conduct study within two years)

    Permit employers to offer employees rewards—in the form of premium discounts, waivers of cost sharing requirements, or benefits that would otherwise not be provided—of up to 30% of the cost of coverage for participating in a wellness program and meeting certain health-related standards. Employers must offer an alternative standard for individuals for whom it is unreasonably difficult or inadvisable to meet the standard. The reward limit may be increased to 50% of the cost of coverage if deemed appropriate. (Effective January 1, 2014) Establish 10-state pilot programs by July 2014 to permit participating states to apply similar rewards for participating in wellness programs in the individual market and expand demonstrations in 2017 if effective. Require a report on the effectiveness and impact of wellness programs. (Report due three years following enactment)

  • Nutritional information
    Require chain restaurants and food sold from vending machines to disclose the nutritional content of each item.