Health Care Innovation Challenge Focus
Sunday, January 15, 2012
By Susannah Mayhall
As would-be applicants to the Health Care Innovation Challenge across the country are learning, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' monstrous $1 billion program aimed at innovating health care and payment models in an effort to save money is no walk in the park.
By December 19, 2011, CMS had received well over 10,000 letters of intent for the program. While a significant percentage of these LOIs will probably not result in full proposal submissions, interest in the program has been unsurprisingly overwhelming. With the January 27 deadline looming, project developers, writers, and other grants professionals are knee-deep in the murky program requirements, which call for a tightly-knit forty-page narrative and a complex total cost of care savings plan, among other elements. As with almost any grantwriting endeavor, it is crucial that all participants follow a few necessary steps to stay above water and ensure that a responsive, competitive narrative is submitted by the deadline. Although by no means exhaustive, the following tips will help keep the process going smoothly for everyone during crunch time.
- Register early. HCIC grants must be submitted via Grants.gov. Because the registration process can take up to two weeks, it's important to get your registration information lined up as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute snags with submission.
- Set internal deadlines and delegate responsibilities. With so many moving parts, the HCIC grant is a huge undertaking for any grantwriting team. Be sure to set deadlines and communicate regularly with the team so that all necessary components are completed in a timely fashion.
- Keep reviewing the guidance. Just because you've read the guidance once or twice doesn't mean you will remember every detail. Throughout the process, revisit the guidance to make sure your proposal is on track and meets the priorities laid out in the FOA. Additionally, keep abreast of new developments as some requirements have changed. For example, a January 5 email from CMS explains that section e. Key Personnel is not a required form and is not included in the application package. Additionally, the email directs applicants to state "Health Care Innovation Challenge" in their Descriptive Title of Applicant's project in Item 15 and check "c" on Item 19, as Review by State Executive Order 12372 does not apply to this grant.
- Utilize outside reviewers. Whether internal or external proposal development is used, it's critical to involve an reviewer who is not a part of the immediate proposal development team to evaluate and edit your proposal. CMS has provided a large quantity of guidance for application preparation, but it is only too easy to miss details, weak points, and proofreading errors in a document with which you've been working closely. A fresh pair of eyes on your application will provide you with additional insight and may catch errors or logic lapses you have missed.
- Submit early. Although Grants.gov has greatly improved in recent years, technical difficulties are always a potential problem, and submitting your proposal at least a day or two in advance of the deadline ensures that you will get it in on time.