Health policy expert presents Brookings MEDTalk on pediatric asthma alternative payment models

September 24, 2014

UMass Medical School health policy expert Katharine London, MS, joined a roster of health care leaders at the latest Brookings Institution MEDTalkon Sept. 24 to discuss how alternative payment models can support innovative ways of providing care for children with asthma.

“Alternative payment models give primary care practices the flexibility to target funds for preventative care and care coordination that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” said London, MS, a principal at the Center for Health Law and Economics, a unit within the Commonwealth Medicine health care consulting division.

MEDTalk: Pediatric Asthma and Transforming Care for the Most Vulnerable, the third in the Merkin Series on Innovations in Care Delivery, featured seven TED-style talks in person at the Brookings Institution’s Washington, D.C headquarters or as a live webcast. The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. To attend the MEDTalk via webcast, register at this Brookings website.

London focused her talk on three themes: alternative payment methods currently in use in Massachusetts, how providers who care for patients with asthma and chronic conditions can benefit from them, and possible difficulties in execution of the reforms.

“Alternative payment methods allow providers to maintain the same level of revenue even if they are offering a different style of care with fewer traditional services,” London said.

One innovative model London discussed is the Children’s High-Risk Asthma Bundled Payment Demonstration Program, a partnership between MassHealth and UMass Medical School. The program aims to evaluate whether a bundled payment - which pays providers one fee for multiple services - can both improve health outcomes of children with high-risk asthma who are enrolled in MassHealth and reduce their need for costly emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Under the bundled payment system in the demonstration program, of which London is the UMass Medical School project lead, providers would have the flexibility to offer non-traditional interventions and services. Pediatric patients with high-risk asthma could receive vacuum filters, mattress covers or home visits from community health workers who teach families ways of reducing household triggers.

The challenge in implementing alternative payment models for Medicaid programs is targeting preventive services to members who are most likely to need them and developing a prospective budget for these services.

The MEDTak that London participated in and the demonstration program she is working on are both mentioned in a Health Affairs blog post, Pediatric Asthma: An Opportunity In Payment Reform And Public Health, authored by staff members of the Brookings Institution.

Access Katharine London's talk about State Medicaid Innovation on You Tube.

Watch an archived version of the MEDTalk.