(BOSTON, MA) This week marks the launch of the “Year of the Family Caregiver” – a year-long celebration that will recognize family caregivers for all that they give, and all that we ask of them. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a number of provisions intended to improve the way patients – and their family caregivers – experience care. One of those provisions was realized this week with the launch of the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and announced new demonstration projects that will support efforts to better coordinate care and improve health outcomes for patients. The Innovation Center will examine new ways of delivering health care and paying health care providers that can improve the quality of care and save money for Medicare and Medicaid. Susan Sherry, Deputy Director of Community Catalyst, issued the following statement about the launch of the Innovation Center.

“As an organization committed to ensuring that all people – particularly the most vulnerable members of our communities – have access to quality affordable health care, we celebrate the launch of the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which is a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act’s promise to improve care coordination and ensure better outcomes for patients. It is only fitting that the Center’s launch coincides with this week’s beginning of the “Year of the Family Caregiver,” in recognition of those who play a crucial, often under-appreciated, role in our families, communities and in our health care system.

“Far too many people – patients and their caregivers alike – have suffered under our fragmented health care system. Duplicate tests, medication errors, preventable readmissions and infections and a lack of care coordination among providers put people’s health at risk and make care unaffordable for those who can least afford it. These challenges are particularly acute for people with chronic illnesses who are on both Medicaid and Medicare.

“We know from our involvement in creating the Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA), a model delivery care system focused on primary care and prevention that serves Massachusetts residents dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, it is possible to improve people’s health while lowering costs by keeping people out of the hospital and out of nursing homes. The Innovation Center will identify and test models like CCA and replicate them on a national scale.

“The establishment of the Innovation Center and the launch of demonstration projects testing health care models in communities across the country are a tremendous step forward in implementing the delivery reform provisions of the new health law in ways that benefit older adults and their families, and in changing the future of care for the better.”

About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all.  Since 1997, Community Catalyst has been working to build the consumer and community leadership required to transform the American health system.  With the belief that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice, Community Catalyst works in partnership with national, state and local consumer organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to change the health care system so it serves everyone – especially vulnerable members of society.  For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org.