On March 2, CMS Administrator Donald Berwick discussed the important role that the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMI) will play in combating healthcare-associated infections. Speaking at a forum on such infections and their impact on the cost of healthcare, Administrator Berwick cited the need to improve patient safety and stated that the CMI – which was established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) last year – will sponsor pilot programs and demonstration projects in order to attain such quality of care goals.

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) accounted for approximately 1.7 million infections in 2002 and 99,000 associated deaths, and another estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million infections occur each year in long-term care facilities, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS data also attributed an estimated $28 billion to $33 billion in preventable healthcare expenditures to these infections annually.

The PPACA has provided $5 billion in start-up funding and an additional $10 billion for demonstration projects to the CMI, which has been using the federal dollars to focus on multipayer programs at the state level and integrated care. The center is also engaging in listening sessions and other strategic development initiatives in order to increase knowledge on how to prevent HAIs and to determine what role the CMI can play in disseminating that knowledge and ultimately improving quality of care.