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Obamacare to launch new payment initiative

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Obamacare planSix years after President Obama’s health reforms became law, officials in his administration told POLITICO they are launching the largest-ever initiative to transform primary care in America, an effort to give doctors more flexibility and reward them for producing better results for their patients.

The experiment the administration will announce today, a program called Comprehensive Primary Care Plus, is intended to shake up the way 20,000 doctors and clinicians treat more than 25 million patients when it goes into effect in January 2017.

In a sharp departure from the current “fee-for-service” system, which offers reimbursements per visit or procedure, providers who volunteer to participate will received fixed monthly fees for every patient and bonuses for meeting various quality goals. When their patients stay healthier and require less-expensive care, many primary care doctors will also share in the savings to Medicare, Medicaid or private insurers.

Most of the attention devoted to the Affordable Care Act has involved its coverage expansion for the uninsured and its new rules governing insurance, but its little-noticed changes to the actual delivery of care could be just as consequential in the long run. This new five-year primary care initiative would be its most ambitious delivery reform yet, designed to serve twice as many Americans as are now enrolled in the higher-profile Obamacare exchanges.

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