Vince Kuraitis and Thomas Wilson, PhD, DrPH“If you aren’t confused you don’t know what’s going on.” Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric
Thanks to the continuing opacity of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Serices (CMS), we remain confused about the future of Medicare Health Support (MHS).
It’s been over a month since we last commented on MHS. What’s MHS? It’s JUST the Federal Government’s most significant and visible effort to deal with one of the American health system’s biggest challenges — managing care for patients with chronic diseases.
In late January CMS announced that it planned to end MHS Phase I and did not plan to proceed with MHS Phase II. Evidence presented to justify that decision was sketchy at best and opaque at worst – as we wrote previously, the evidence was “insufficient”.
We are not alone in our confusion and lack of clarity about the future of MHS:
Healthways CEO Ben Leedle: “What we don’t know any more than you do is where that data came from or have the opportunity for CMS to share with us how they came to those conclusions. …I really can’t comment on that only because I can’t draw any conclusion around it until I understand directly from CMS how they arrived at those numbers and for what time periods they arrived for it and what was their work done in being able to calculate relative trend lines and the rate of change that has to occur with remaining months.” [Healthways Earnings Call Transcript; March 18, 2008 (transcript courtesy of Seeking Alpha)]
Four U.S. Senators in a letter to CMS Administrator Kerry Weems requesting continuation of MHS: ”As we understand it, the methodology employed by CMS in making these statements is un-validated, incomplete and open to interpretations, rather than specific data as required” [DMAA eNews; March 18, 2008 quoting from a letter written by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., John Kerry, D-Mass., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn]. The Disease Management Care Blog hints at the coincidence that these four Senators come from the states of Tennessee and Massachusetts (which happen to be home for two of the MHS vendors).
CMS spokesperson Peter Ashkenaz: the agency plans to work “as expeditiously as possible” on the evaluation of the program and that all organizations involved “knew that the program was to be evaluated before CMS could proceed to the next phase” [Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report; March 18, 2008]
Well, that settles that – NOT! (with apologies to Wayne’s World).
We saw the first (and only) MHS evaluation released when the project was two years old; that evaluation only reported on data for the first six months of the project. Will it be another two years before a final evaluation is released?
We’ll continue to keep you informed of non-developments as they occur.
Article Series - CMS Bumps Off Medicare Health Support
- CMS: “Rumors of Medicare Health Support’s Death Have Not Been Greatly Exaggerated”
- $389 M of Healthways’ Market Value Vaporizes After CMS Announcement. What Happened?
- Insufficient Evidence to End Medicare Health Support
- Guest Post: The CMS Announcement Of Medicare Health Support Program Cancellation — What It Means For Buyers
- Medicare Health Support: “Do not go gentle into that good night”
- The Medicare Health Support Saga: Opacity in Government Going Strong
- NYT Provides More “Enlightened Ambiguity” on Medicare Health Support
- Healthways Fights an Uphill Battle on Medicare Health Support Phase II
- CMS Releases 2nd Report on Medicare Health Support
- Medicare Health Support: 8 Takeaways on Building Better Bridges
- Medicare Health Support (MHS) Claims Another Victim: LifeMasters Files for Chapter 11
- Lifemasters Bankruptcy: Will CMS Earn Reputation as a Good Business Partner or Thug?