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  • New Mexico Quality Improvement Organization Awarded $6.4 Million Contract; Federal Medicare Funding to Drive Rapid, Large-Scale Changes in Health Quality

New Mexico Quality Improvement Organization Awarded $6.4 Million Contract; Federal Medicare Funding to Drive Rapid, Large-Scale Changes in Health Quality

The New Mexico Medical Review Association (NMMRA), the state’s longstanding quality improvement organization (QIO), has been awarded a $6.4 million contract from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to serve for another three years as the Medicare QIO for New Mexico. This marks the ninth consecutive time since 1986 that NMMRA has been awarded this contract. Because of the organization’s excellent performance during the past three years, the contract was renewed through July 31, 2014, on a noncompetitive basis.

“I am so proud of the work the staff has done to meet the growing expectations of the federal government—indeed our own growing expectations—to help improve health care quality in the state, and it was only possible because of the commitment and willingness of the state’s health care providers and other stakeholders that have collaborated with us so effectively,” said Dan Jaco, NMMRA CEO.

Under the new three-year contract, NMMRA will be focusing on four major aims: enhancing beneficiary and family-centered care; improving individual patient care; integrating care for populations and communities; and improving the overall health of populations and communities.

“It is a tall order, but very much welcomed in terms of where the quality improvement work will take us the next three years,” Jaco said. 

In terms of individual patient care, NMMRA will continue its work with New Mexico hospitals to sharply reduce healthcare-associated infections and with nursing homes to reduce pressure ulcers, physical restraints and infections. NMMRA’s previous work on reducing adverse drug events receives added emphasis in the new contract. Integrating care for populations and communities will entail recruiting four communities around the state to work on improving care transitions and reducing readmissions to hospitals. Overall health of the population will include improving rates of immunization, cancer screening and a cardiovascular campaign emphasizing prevention.

NMMRA will continue its support of electronic health record systems in the state and will be working to align its QIO contract work with other contracts and grants, notably, the New Mexico Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Aligning Forces for Quality grant also held by NMMRA, the New Mexico Department of Health and its similar focus on reducing healthcare-associated infections and NMMRA’s contract as the Medicaid External Quality Review Organization on behalf of the state Human Services Department.

Jaco, who announced he was stepping down as CEO at the end of the year to relocate to Iowa to be closer to family, said he could not be happier that NMMRA was able to secure the QIO contract for another three years prior to his departure. He also believes strongly the unique affiliation arrangement into which NMMRA entered earlier this year with the HealthInsight Management Corporation in Salt Lake City will enable NMMRA to continue its stellar tradition of a strong local presence while leveraging the strengths and economies of scale of working with two other states in the region.

“The federal landscape is changing,” he noted. “Single-state organizations, especially from small-population states, will be increasingly challenged to succeed in the evolving environment.” 

NMMRA plans by the end of the year to convert to a new company name, HealthInsight New Mexico.