CMS is requesting public comments on ways to structure new models for delivering and paying for Medicare outpatient specialty practitioner services. The first broad model CMS is considering is a procedural episode-based payment model, where the episode of care would be defined around an outpatient surgical or interventional procedure such as colonoscopy or cardiac catheterization. Payment under this model would include all related services furnished during the episode, such as practitioners’ services (e.g., anesthesia, pathology, and/or radiology), diagnostic tests, Medicare-covered prescription drugs, and if applicable, ambulatory surgical center or hospital outpatient department facility payments.

A second model being considered is described as a complex and chronic disease management episode-based payment model. In this case, the episode would be defined as a prolonged period of time for management of the condition by a specialist practitioner, and the bundle could contain the same comprehensive services as contemplated under the procedural interventional model. In both models, CMS is concentrating on care by specialist practitioners other than medical oncologists, since a potential oncology model is being developed on a separate track.

CMS is exploring these options under its Affordable Care Act authority to test innovative payment and service delivery models that have the potential to reduce program expenditures while preserving or enhancing the quality of care for Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program beneficiaries. Comments will be accepted until March 13, 2014.