Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Peer Supporters CMS Funding

Peer Supporters Play Prominent Role in Recent CMS Innovation Funding

In November 2011 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Health Care Innovation Challenge program that would award up to $1 billion in grants for efforts to improve care and lower costs for patients with public coverage. On May 1st, The Office of Health and Human Services announced the first 26 recipients of these grants totaling $122.6 million. Many of these projects are of particular interest to those working with community health workers and in the field of peer support. This blog takes a brief look at some of the innovative ways recipients have proposed incorporating peer support in their grants:


The Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio Texas was awarded $4,557,969 for work with homeless adults in San Antonio with severe mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders, at risk for chronic physical diseases. Their intervention will integrate health care into behavioral health clinics. A multi-disciplinary care team will coordinate behavioral, primary, and tertiary health care for patients that are primarily Medicaid beneficiaries or eligible for Medicaid to improve their capacity to self-manage, reducing emergency room admissions, hospital admissions, and lowering costs, while improving health and quality of life and with estimated savings of $5 million over 3 years. The program will train workers to provide peer support to generate readiness for change, build motivation, and sustain compliance.


The Courage center in Minnesota received $1,767,667 to test a community-based medical home model to serve adults with disabilities and other complex health conditions. The intervention will coordinate and improve access to primary and specialty care, increase adherence to care, and empower participants to better manage their own health. Over 50 Independent Living Skills Specialists, Peer Leaders, and other health professionals will be trained with enhanced skills to fulfill the medical home mission. This community-based and patient-centered approach is expected to reduce avoidable hospitalizations, lower cost, and improve the quality of care for this vulnerable group of people with an estimated savings of over $2 million over the three year award.


Duke University, in conjunction with the University of Michigan National Center for Geospatial Medicine, Durham County Health Department , Cabarrus Health Alliance (Cabarrus County, NC), Mississippi Public Health Institute, Marshall University, and Mingo County Diabetes Coalition (Mingo County, WV) received $9,773,499 for its plan to reduce death and disability from Type 2 diabetes mellitus among fifty-seven thousand people in four Southeastern counties who are underserved and at-risk populations in the Southeast. The program will use informatics systems that stratify patients and neighborhoods by risk, target communities in need of higher-intensity interventions, and serve as the basis for decision support and real-time monitoring of interventions. Local home care teams will provide patient-centered coordinated care to improve outcomes and lower cost — expecting to reduce hospital and emergency room admissions and reduce through preventive care the need for amputations, dialysis, and cardiac procedures with estimated savings of over $20 million. Over the three-year period, this collaborative program will train an estimated 88 health care workers and create an estimated 31 new jobs. These workers include new types of health workers including information officers, health integrators, and community health workers, who will use novel technologies to facilitate communication, education, and care delivery.


Joslin Diabetes Center, Inc. received $4,967,276 to expand their “On the Road” program that will send trained community health workers into community settings to help approximately 3000 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and low income/uninsured populations understand their risks and improve health habits for the prevention and management of diabetes. The program will target at risk and underserved populations in New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., helping to prevent the development and progression of diabetes and reducing overall costs, avoidable hospitalizations, and the development of chronic co-morbidities.

After our previous blog discussing community health workers in the US workforce and efforts to demonstrate their value to the healthcare system, this round of funding demonstrates the government’s interest in increasing the role of community health workers and peers supporters in the health system. To read about the other award winners please check out The next round of recipients will be announced in June and we will look forward to seeing additional ways for peer supporters and community health workers to be incorporated into improving health across the nation.

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