For Immediate Release - May 22, 2014

HPC Makes $60M Available for Community Hospitals in CHART Phase 2

Announces comprehensive study on Massachusetts community hospitals

Today, the Health Policy Commission (HPC) voted to approve approximately $60 million in funding for eligible Massachusetts community hospitals through the second phase of the HPC’s Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation (CHART) Investment Program. In addition to approving funding for Massachusetts community hospitals, the HPC also announced the conception of an action-oriented study on the future of community hospitals in the Commonwealth.  

 

CHART Investment Program

 

Funded through an assessment on hospitals and insurers, the CHART Investment Program will provide nearly $120 million to Massachusetts community hospitals over four years. At today’s meeting, the HPC commissioners approved an approach for Phase 2 investments, which makes $60 million available to community hospitals for multiyear initiatives. The Request for Proposals (RFP) governing Phase 2 will be released in June.

 

“The goal of Phase 2 of the CHART Investment Program is to help community hospitals transform and thrive in a changing environment,” said Commissioner Paul Hattis. “We hope that the combination of focused project aims, along with technology and planning requirements, will enable the Commonwealth’s community hospitals to provide efficient, effective care that meets community needs.”

 

The RFP will call for innovative proposals along one or more of the following aims: (1) maximizing appropriate hospital use, (2) enhancing behavioral health care, and (3) improving hospital-wide processes to reduce waste and improve safety. Phase 2 also incentivizes regional partnerships, both through encouraging joint hospital applications and strongly emphasizing the importance of partnerships between hospitals and community based providers and other organizations.

 

“A strong community hospital system is essential to health care quality and access,” said David Seltz, Executive Director of the HPC. “CHART Phase 2 is designed to drive deep impact across the Commonwealth, while also providing a flexible implementation approach and supporting the state’s overarching goal of transformation toward accountable care and sustaining achievement of the health care cost growth benchmark. It will help inspire long-term, sustainable change in community hospitals across the Commonwealth.”

 

All awardees will be required to engage in a series of participation standards, including joining and using the Mass HIway (and other emerging technologies as appropriate), engaging in community-oriented strategic planning, and participating in technical assistance activities. Phase 2 will also continue the HPC’s focus on hospital management, leadership, and culture.

 

The HPC expects to announce award recipients in fall 2014.

 

 

Chapter 224, the Commonwealth’s landmark 2012 health care cost containment law, established the eligibility guidelines for CHART Investment Program. It states that applicants must be non-teaching hospitals with non-profit status and relative prices below the state’s median.

 

The first phase of the CHART Investment Program dispersed nearly $10 million dollars to 28 eligible community hospitals. Phase 1 projects focused on foundational investments to prime system transformation. Many projects developed programs to integrate behavioral health care into the hospital’s practices while others supported the training of staff and implementing electronic health record systems.   

 

From Community Hospitals to Community Health: A Statewide Study

The sudden closure of North Adams Regional Hospital demonstrated that, even with investments from the Commonwealth, some community hospitals are at financial risk. While all providers are facing an unprecedented impetus to transform, community hospitals in particular are confronting significant challenges in adapting to reimbursement pressures, changing community demographics, new payment and care delivery models, and generally decreasing inpatient volume. 

Recognizing the lack of information on the status of community hospitals, the HPC is pleased to announce a new study on the current state and future of community hospitals in Massachusetts. The study, targeted for release in early 2015, will include an examination of the Commonwealth’s current and future hospital capacity needs as well as the opportunities and strategies that can be employed by community hospitals to more effectively and efficiently provide a spectrum of services to meet the needs of their community.

The product of this study will be an assessment of baseline status, community need, and opportunity for community hospital transformation as well as a set of action-oriented recommendations to support providers’ transformation efforts and to guide policymakers. The Health Policy Commission plans to present the results of the study to the public, interested stakeholders, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services as the Chair of the Health Planning Council. Findings of this study will also be used to inform future phases of the CHART Investment Program.

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The HPC is an independent state agency that monitors reform in the health care delivery and payment systems and develops policies to reduce overall cost growth while improving the quality of patient care. To learn more, please visit www.mass.gov/hpc or follow us on Twitter @Mass_HPC.