The Affordable Care Act mandates quality bonus payments (QBPs) to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans earning quality ratings of at least four out of five stars. To strengthen incentives for quality improvement, CMS is implementing a demonstration that extends bonus payments to three-star plans, accelerates the phase-in of QBPs, and eliminates the cap on blended county benchmarks that would otherwise limit QBPs. The demonstration will begin in 2012.

CMS has contracted with L&M, and our subcontractors Mathematica Policy Research and the George Washington University, to evaluate the QBP demonstration. The four-year evaluation will include a mix of quantitative and qualitative research activities, including data analyses of plan quality indicators and other CMS data sources, a telephone survey of MA organizations, and case studies with selected MA organizations. Specifically, the evaluation seeks to: