The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has opened the doors of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, an agency that is supposed to rethink federal health plans.

The Innovation Center was created by the Affordable Care Act, the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

The Innovation Center is supposed to come up with ideas for ways to improve the quality and safety of care for individuals; improve coordination of care through mechanisms such as accountable care organizations (ACOs); and develop strategies for handling public health crises and issues.

The Innovation Center will organize open forum calls and in-person regional community listening sessions that will be open to the public, center officials say.

The host of the forums will be Dr. Richard Gilfillan, the acting director of the Innovation Center.

CMS, the parent of the Innovation Center, also is expanding a primary care practice project that is testing a medical home project that involves primary care doctors who receive payments from many different payers, including private insurers, and try to work with other providers in a more integrated fashion, officials say.

The 8 states in the pilot project are Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, has put out a statement welcoming the launch of the Innovation Center.

The center will be working with private insurers to learn from their experiments with plan designs and spread good ideas, Ignagni says.

“Our plans look forward to working with CMS as the new center progresses,” Ignagni says.

- Allison Bell