The formulation of the triple aim responds to three problems facing the US health care system: high cost, low quality, and poor health status. The purpose of this article is to analyze the potential of the health care system to achieve the triple aim and, specifically, the attempt to improve population health by rewarding providers who contain costs. The first section of the article will consider the task of improving population health through the health care system. The second section of the article will discuss CMS's efforts to pay providers to achieve the triple aim, that is, to improve health care and population health while containing cost. These include Maryland's Global Revenue Budget model, bundled payments, and ACOs, and they highlight the extent to which this version of integration is underwritten by savings achieved by providers for the Medicare program. The conclusion section of the article will consider the politics of payment reform as social reform. It will address proposals that health care payers and providers lead in addressing the social contributors to ill health and urge payment reformers to appreciate more fully the politics and policies of other sectors and the dynamics of their inclusion in population health improvement.

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