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HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Trump administration announced a new set of primary-care payment models yesterday, an attempt to incentivize doctors to produce better health outcomes.

The backdrop: This builds on initiatives by both the Obama and Trump administrations to transition away from a fee-for-service payment system.

  • HHS Secretary Alex Azar predicted that the models will enroll 25% of traditional Medicare beneficiaries and providers. Implementation of the models — which providers must apply for — begins in 2020.

Between the lines: There are very few subjects in health care that are simultaneously bipartisan, boring and important, but value-based payment reform is one of them.

  • And if you can get through all of the wonky acronyms, it's actually not boring, because it gets at the U.S.' unique problem of having very expensive health care that is relatively poor quality.
  • By targeting primary care and using performance measures like hospital admissions, the new models lean into the theory that if doctors catch and treat conditions before they worsen, it keeps patients healthier and saves a lot of money down the road.

How it works: Yesterday's announcement includes 2 types of models: one aimed at smaller primary-care practices, and another aimed at larger practices and health systems.

  • Both tie doctors' payments to performance to varying degrees, rewarding them for good outcomes and penalizing them for poor ones.
  • But the announcement left some key questions unanswered that will be crucial to provider participation, said Evolent Health's Chris Dawe.

The bottom line: This is clearly the direction that Azar wants to head — and not just in Medicare. "This initiative is specifically designed to encourage state Medicaid programs and commercial payers to adopt similar approaches," he said in a speech.

Go deeper: Stat News has more details on the models.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Biden told his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on a phone call Friday that he plans to reverse former President Trump’s “draconian immigration policies.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.