HHS unveils strategic plan for 2018 and beyond
Every four years, HHS releases a strategic plan for the next four, a document intended to give a high-level overview of the agency’s overall direction and priorities. The latest draft plan for 2018-2022 was released with little fanfare for public comment (the comment period closed at the end of last month).
Unlike in previous years, this latest plan hints at a more conservative-leaning policy bent, emphasizing less government intervention and a bigger role for the market. The draft plan also adds potentially controversial, explicitly anti-abortion language, such as “HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.”
A sampling of the draft’s policy priorities includes:
- Promote use of “high-quality, lower-cost healthcare providers, such as community health workers, dental therapists, and community organizations”
- Improve return on investment of federal healthcare spending by “encouraging development of payment models that reward value over volume”
- Expand opportunities for CMS alternative payment models “to incentivize value-based care options”
- Support consumer choice by promoting a range of individual health insurance plans and payment options, “including faith-based options, with different benefit and cost-sharing structures”
- Use public-private partnerships “to prevent and detect fraud and other inappropriate payments across the healthcare industry by sharing fraud-related information and data, promoting best practices, and educating partners”
While industry stakeholders applauded the plan’s focus on reducing costs of care, supporting evidence-based decision-making, and targeting of specific health crises (infectious disease and opioid abuse), the agency’s embrace of faith-based initiatives and overtly religious definitions for life and conception have proven controversial. HHS is expected to release a final version of its strategic plan, in which it will respond to public comments received, by the end of the year.