Program supports delivery of ‘advanced primary care,’ allowing providers to increase role in improving health outcomes

News Release, Maryland Department of Health

Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Primary Care Program (MDPCP), a key component of Maryland’s Total Cost of Care Model contract with the Federal Government, is now accepting applications for its second year. Online applications for interested primary care practices and Care Transformation Organizations (CTOs) are available May 10 through June 28, 2019.

The MDPCP is a voluntary program open to all Maryland primary care practices with primary care clinicians, including physicians, clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants with eligible specialty designations. It supports the delivery of “advanced primary care,” allowing Marylanders to have their health managed by a dedicated, interdisciplinary care team led by a primary care clinician.

Unlike a traditional payment approach that requires providers to see more and more patients for shorter visits, the MDPCP alters the state’s payment system to reward practices for focusing attention on those with the greatest need. This innovative approach to provider payment is unique to Maryland and made possible by a contract between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH).

“This program allows providers to play an increasingly important role in improving health outcomes and reducing unnecessary emergency department and hospital visits,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Patients in participating practices can expect a better patient experience and expanded access to care.”

“The Maryland Primary Care Program is a tremendous benefit to both patients and providers and will ensure the highest level of care for patients with the greatest need,” said Dr. Howard Haft, Executive Director of the MDPCP Program Management Office. “In the program’s first year, more than half of all eligible practices have joined, resulting in 380 participating practices across the state.”

Within the 380 participating practices, more than 1,500 clinicians have joined the program and are serving more than 220,000 patients throughout every county in Maryland. MDPCP leadership anticipates the program’s reach to expand to more than 400 primary care practices in 2020.

The program’s requirements are designed to foster holistic care, addressing the physical, behavioral and social needs of Marylanders. Financial incentives provided to primary care clinicians are designed to support significant improvements in the way healthcare is delivered, requiring 24/7 availability, prompt follow-ups to emergency department and hospital visits, and meticulous and consistent attention to the needs of patients.

“The Maryland Primary Care Program and resources have allowed our physicians to care for their patients in a much more comprehensive manner. With the additional funds, we are able to not only provide excellent specific disease treatment, but manage the patient care associated with behavior health, medication reconciliation with a pharmacist or patient education and follow up after a hospital visit to avoid unnecessary admissions or readmissions,” said Dr. William Saway, President of Columbia Medical Practice, a participating practice in Howard County.

Full details on the application process and program requirements are available in the Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2020 Program Year. Separate online application portals are available for interested practices and CTOs. The Maryland Department of Health will be hosting a series of educational sessions to help potential applicants learn more about the program and prepare for the application process. For more information on MDPCP and a calendar of upcoming events, please visit the MDPCP website.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...