CMMI announces The Healthcare Innovation Challenge

A billion dollars will be awarded in grants open to providers,payers,local government,public-private partnerships,and multi-payer collaboratives.
Yesterday, the Innovation Center announced the Health Care Innovation Challenge. On the call, ThedaCare was mentioned by Dr. Gilfillin as an example of an innovative organization.

This new program will award up to a total of $1 billion in grants to applicants who implement new ideas to achieve the three part aim for people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP, particularly those with the highest health care needs.

Proposals submitted should include three elements: (1) workforce development and deployment; (2) speed to implementation (must be operational or capable of rapid expansion within 6 months) and (3) model sustainability.  Awards will range from $1 million to $30 million for a three-year period.  Applications are open to providers, payers, local government, public-private partnerships, and multi-payer collaborative.

Important Dates:

  • Informational webinar on November 17th at 2:00 to 3:30 ET.  A link to the webinar is available on the Innovation Center website (provided below)
  • Letter of intent due December 19th
  • Applications due January 27, 2012
  • Anticipated award date for the first round of grants is March 30, 2012.

Additional information is available at: and in the attached pdf containing the funding opportunity announcement.

The Innovation Center hosted a stakeholder call to announce the new program and answer stakeholder questions.  Dr. Gilfillan began by saying the Innovation Center is looking for partners in the private sector to engage in, identify and test new care delivery and payment models developed in the field, new models of workforce development and deployment, and support innovators through expansions of existing efforts or rapidly deploying new efforts.

Dr. Gilfillan commented that high-cost, high-risk groups should be the focus of the applications and that the Innovation Center is looking for applicants that will engage a broad set of partners.  Dr. Gilfillan stated that every project will have to demonstrate how it will meet the three part aim of better health, better care and lowering cost.  The line was then opened for questions.

Questions and Answers

Q: Is there a role for states in this solicitation?

A: Generally, this initiative is targeted to other awardees, rather than states.  But, there may be an instance in which a particular applicant has state agency as part of what they are doing.


Q: Are QIOs eligible to partner in this collaboration?

A: Conceivably yes, QIOs are not excluded.


Q: Is the technical assistance likely to include analysis of Medicare data in as close as possible to real time?

A: The Innovation Center recognizes the importance of providing claims information as rapidly as possible and looking for proposals that include a description of an approach with Medicare claims data.  CMMI is open to it and recognizes the value of it and the specifics of ability of organization to use the data will vary and will be evaluated as part of overall evaluation of proposals.


Q: If a hospital participates in another demonstration program, are they excluded from this one?

A: Not necessarily.  There may be some overlap depending on the specific proposal – the fact of participation in another Innovation Center program does not disqualify an entity from participation.  However, the Innovation Center is not looking to duplicate efforts, so would likely not pick a project for an alternative ACO, medical home or bundled payment.


Q: What is the relationship between this initiative and Partnership for Patients?

A:  The Partnership for Patients program has a variety of operating activities that are coming online on either care transitions or patient safety.  The Innovation Center is not looking to duplicate those activities, but there may be some proposals that have an impact on patient safety that CMMI would evaluate for the criteria in the funding announcement to decide if there is additional value added.


Q: Will there be a second round of funding?

A: No.  There will be $1 billion dispersed over two grant cycles.  The second cycle will be later in 2012.


Q: How would such a project be sustainable in the future?

A: The Innovation Center intends for this approach to give people the opportunity to create a model that demonstrates long-term sustainability so that over the course of the 2-3 years of support through this program, they can build the case that their activity adds value.  Then down the road, the project could attract an ongoing supportive mechanism through a commercial payer, Medicare, or Medicaid.


Q: The funding announcement focuses on populations with highest health care needs, which are those?

A: Some examples might include individuals with multiple disabilities or rural communities that provide care coordination and community based care specific to a rural setting.


Q: Are cities and counties disqualified or discouraged from participating?

A: No, they are not discouraged from participating.


Q: Can multiple applications come from same institution?

A: Yes.


Q: How will applications be reviewed?

A: Independent review panels will look at the applications and score against criteria in the announcement.  CMS will review the high scorers and determine awardees.


Q: Is there capacity for smaller projects?

A: The Innovation Center is not closed off to the idea of considering smaller projects, but cannot support an infinite number of small projects.


Q: Are small startup companies eligible to apply?

A:  This program is not specifically a venture capital for private sector startups.   But the Innovation Center is interested in ideas that are presented and will review all applications based on criteria in the funding announcement.


Q: Are HMO patients eligible for this type of innovation?

A: The Innovation Center is charged with addressing Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP populations.  However, the Innovation Center will be looking for organizations that have track record of success with these kinds of initiatives in other populations, including HMO patients.


Q: Can we use the grant to broaden base of a new Independence at Home organization?

A: The Innovation Center would look at a proposal and see what it entails.  It is not the Innovation Center’s intent to duplicate other programs in place, so we would have to be convinced that it is something beyond what we expect from Independence at Home demonstration

CMMI Innovation Challenge FOA

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