The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced the formation of a $100 million technical assistance fund to help states develop and refine reforms to their Medicaid programs.  

The fund is the latest among efforts from the Affordable Care Act to make the U.S. health care system more efficient by bankrolling initiatives to begin paying for it differently. That generally means a move away from paying doctors an individual fee for every service and encouraging them to take on more financial risk for their performance or to agree to earn money based on outcomes.

The ACA provides $10 billion for those and other types of programs through 2019 across Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The new fund, called the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, will help further the initiatives for which CMS is paying and others that states have taken on themselves, according to the agency.

But instead of giving grant money directly to states to, say, pay a group of primary care doctors an additional fee to coordinate the care of a specific group of patients, the fund will pay outside contractors to provide technical expertise to states, doctors and community health care groups, according to a CMS spokesman.  

That technical expertise could come in the form of financial modeling to put in place payment reform, newly available sources of data as well as tools to evaluate quality and help states better communicate on areas of mutual interest.

The agency said it will determine areas of focus with input from health plans, state officials, providers and consumers. Once the focus is clear, the agency will work with volunteer states and vendors to develop tools and make them available.

 The National Association of Medicaid Directors said in a statement that it's been seeking a coordinated effort "to address the patchwork of federal agency rules and processes that surround state reform efforts." The group went on to say that the program helps establish a clearer way to seek resources without using time and money "reinventing the wheel." 

 For access to CMS' frequently asked questions and other documents, see here.