ARPA-H launches program to reduce preventable deaths


As part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda, ARPA-H launches program to increase investment in addressing preventable health challenges in underserved communities   

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is launching a new program through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to explore new ways to address some of our country’s most pressing preventable health challenges. The Health care Rewards to Achieve Improved Outcomes (HEROES) program will help spur investment in community-level preventative care resources, especially in communities that have long experienced limited access to breakthroughs in medicine and health care. This effort delivers on President Biden’s Unity Agenda – bringing much-needed resources to underserved communities and improving health outcomes across the country.  

“As we invest in the technologies of tomorrow that have the potential to save us from preventable health challenges, sometimes the financial incentives are not aligned to facilitate acceleration and adoption of these new capabilities,  particularly for individuals in communities that need them most,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D. “HEROES is a unique program that will bring together the major players in the health care ecosystem — including insurers, investors, providers, and most importantly, patients — to completely change the health care paradigm so that future innovations will have a better chance to be sustained in the real world.” 

For many Americans, their zip code and income can define their health future. For example, Americans with low incomes die, on average, 15 years younger than Americans who earn at the highest levels, often due to a lack of access to preventative care. Moreover, Americans who live in rural areas, farther from care centers, die at higher rates than those living in urban areas — and the gap is widening.  

“The United States has one of the highest rates of preventable deaths among peer countries despite substantial spending on health care,” said HEROES Program Manager Darshak Sanghavi, M.D. “HEROES seeks to tackle the underlying issues that lead to preventable deaths by establishing a care system that incentivizes providing better preventative care so that every American — no matter their income or where they live — can lead a healthy life.” 

Through a forthcoming program solicitation for the HEROES program, ARPA-H will solicit proposals from potential performers called "Health Accelerators," which can be groups or organizations such as health consortiums or community health centers, to address health challenges in parts of the country where the associated health outcome is worse than the national average.  Examples of health challenges that lead to preventable deaths include alcohol-related harms, cardiovascular disease and risks, opioid overdoses, and severe complications during pregnancy and birth.  By addressing two of these preventable health challenges, HEROES aims to save millions of Americans from suffering and having to pay for expensive treatments. 

HEROES expects to issue multiple awards under its program solicitation via Other Transaction agreements. Once agreements are awarded, Health Accelerators will have three years to execute their proposed plans and show quantifiable reductions in their targeted health challenge. If successful, Health Accelerators will receive payments from ARPA-H based on terms agreed upon at the outset of their performance period.  

From day one, each Health Accelerator is expected to engage with investors and organizations with a business stake in improving the targeted health outcome, including insurers, non-profits, or philanthropies. These investors can work directly with Health Accelerators to fund their plans with the goal of receiving a percentage of the outcome payment issued by ARPA-H.  They can also serve as "Outcome Buyers," contributing additional capital to the outcome payment issued by ARPA-H to increase the incentive for Health Accelerators to achieve their targeted health outcome.  

This incentive-based model — a key characteristic of the HEROES program — brings in potential long-term payers and aims to completely change the care paradigm, igniting a sustainable market that moves us from a sick care system to one that truly rewards better health. 

ARPA-H is currently looking to engage with groups central to establishing its incentive-based approach, including Health Accelerators, investors, and organizations with a business stake in improving public health. Interested groups can learn more about how to engage with the agency on the HEROES program page, which also features information about the HEROES Special Notice and the program's Proposers' Days, February 13-14, 2024, in Washington, D.C.