Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
The NIHCM Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of America's health care system.
  • Infographics

    Since 2000, the opioid crisis has both grown in magnitude and changed in character. This new series of interactive data visualizations depicts these evolving trends.

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  • Advisory Board

    NIHCM Foundation is pleased to welcome Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Sherry Glied, PhD, and Katherine Baicker, PhD, to its distinguished Advisory Board. Their ideas and insights will advance NIHCM's mission to improve health care for millions of Americans.

    Press Release Advisory Board
  • Awards

    NIHCM Foundation hosted the 25th Annual NIHCM Awards at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. to recognize outstanding health care research and journalism.

    Press Release Winners Finalists
  • News

    NIHCM welcomed Secretary Azar to a meeting in March to discuss efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services to transform health care by lowering costs and improving value for patients.

  • Webinars

    As recognition of our country's mental and behavioral health challenges grows, Americans are looking for answers that will increase their happiness and well-being and prevent deaths of despair related to mental health, opioids and suicide. Our four-part webinar series delves into the research and explores innovative strategies and evidence-based solutions to lift our society from crisis.

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  • Grants

    NIHCM Foundation has awarded ten grants for health care journalism including investigative reporting, public engagement campaigns for documentaries and educational opportunities for reporters.

    Press Release All Journalism Grantees Apply for Funding
  • Grants

    NIHCM has awarded over $400,000 in grants to support seven investigator-initiated research studies on topics including value-based drug pricing and Medicaid expansion.

    Press Release All Research Grantees Apply for Funding
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Events

August 29, 2019
Early-Childhood-Webinar-Graphic

This webinar explored how high-quality early childhood education (ECE) has an enormous positive impact on lifelong health, serving as a protective factor against adult disease and disability.

August 28, 2019
Allliance-Webinar-Aug2019

During this webinar, experts shared their thoughts on what health care policy activity might be expected before the end of 2019.

In the News

September 2019
Population Health Spotlight
in-the-news 2

The Outlook for Reforming Payments to Graduate Medical Education

Gail R. Wilensky, PhD, Senior Fellow, Project HOPE
Gail Wilensky
Gail Wilensky

Each year, more than $15 billion of tax-payers’ money is spent to support physicians in residency training. About one-third of this amount comes from Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The remaining nearly $10 billion flows through the Medicare program, primarily to academic medical centers via a complex system of direct graduate medical education (DGME) payments for residents in approved training positions and indirect medical education (IME) payments intended to compensate teaching hospitals for the added costs of caring for Medicare beneficiaries in a training environment. With an investment of this size it is fair to ask whether this public money is being well spent, especially given oft-voiced concerns about specialty and geographic imbalances, insufficient workforce diversity and readiness to practice in today’s delivery systems. Indeed, one could even question why Medicare plays such an outsized role in training our nation’s physicians and whether public support is warranted at this level or at all.

It was within this context that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a 21-member committee in 2012 to assess our current GME system. Dr. Donald Berwick and I – two former administrators of Medicare and Medicaid under Democratic and Republican Administrations – co-chaired the committee. Most of the committee members were academic medical and nursing leaders and, thus, beneficiaries of the government’s support of GME. Our July 2014 report contained five recommendations for a bold restructuring of GME financing.1 In this essay, I explain the recommendations and provide an update on stakeholder reactions as well as potential Congressional interest in tackling changes to GME policy.

The IOM Recommendations

The IOM committee discussed at great length the unusual role that the federal government and, in particular, Medicare have in supporting GME. Ultimately, we recommended that Medicare maintain its total level of DGME plus IME funding for the next ten years (adjusted for inflation), while gradually phasing in performance-based payments designed to develop a more optimal physician workforce. Committee members agreed that ongoing Medicare financing over a transition period would provide the stability and leverage needed to effect desired changes in the GME system.

For this revamped system, the committee recommended consolidating Medicare GME resources into a single fund with two subsidiary components: (1) an Operational Fund that continues to support existing and future Medicare funded training positions and (2) a Transformation Fund to support innovations in how GME funding is used (Figure 1). These innovations could range from research to develop metrics for judging training program performance to testing new ways to distribute residency funding beyond the hospital setting or to address geographic or specialty shortages. The committee assumed that initially almost all of the resources would stay with the Operational Fund but that the allocation to the Transformation Fund would gradually grow as training programs develop the capacity to undertake innovation pilots. Then, as successful innovations are adopted, related funds would move back into the Operational Fund.

To bring more rationality to the GME financing system and provide guidance in its evolution, we recommended creating a GME Policy Council within the Office of the HHS Secretary. This council would develop a strategic plan for GME, identify the types of research to be sponsored by the Transformation Fund and coordinate activities among groups accrediting and certifying residency programs. On a parallel front, we called for a new GME center within CMS to oversee the distribution of funds in accord with Policy Council guidelines.

Our fourth recommendation addressed the complexity and opacity of the current mix of DGME and IME payments by calling for the combination of these funding streams into a single national, geographically adjusted payment per resident. These payments would be made directly to GME sponsoring organizations and, over time, would move to a performance-based system informed by the Transformation Fund pilots.

Fifth, recognizing that Medicaid pays about $4 billion to support GME each year, we recommended that states continue to be allowed to use Medicaid funds for GME but that the same level of accountability and transparency be required for Medicaid as is proposed for Medicare.

Because Medicare’s system of financing GME has not changed fundamentally in the last 30 years, the committee recognized that the changes we put forth will be disruptive to the teaching hospitals and other sponsoring or-gani-zations that have become used to receiving these monies year after year. The ten-year phased-in implementation period we ad-vanced is intended to minimize disruptions. It is only after this period that an additional de-ter-mination should be made about the ap-propriateness of continued federal funding of GME.

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Events

August 29, 2019
Early-Childhood-Webinar-Graphic

This webinar explored how high-quality early childhood education (ECE) has an enormous positive impact on lifelong health, serving as a protective factor against adult disease and disability.

August 28, 2019
Allliance-Webinar-Aug2019

During this webinar, experts shared their thoughts on what health care policy activity might be expected before the end of 2019.

In the News

September 2019
Population Health Spotlight
in-the-news 2

Grants

Journalism GrantsJournalism Grant Program

We are no longer accepting letters of inquiry for the 2019-2020 round of grantmaking. NIHCM will notify grant winners in November 2019.

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NYTUpshotLogo

Investigator-Initiated Research Grant Program

We are no longer accepting letters of inquiry for the 2019-2020 round of grantmaking. A small number of applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal in September.

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Awards

Winners Named in the 25th Annual Research and Journalism Awards

Winners Announcment 2018 1

Congratulations to all of the winners of the 25th Annual NIHCM Foundation Research and Journalism Awards! The winners and finalists were honored at a banquet in Washington, DC, in May.

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