Hospitals will have to speed up changes in how well they treat Medicare patients or face lower payments under plans announced Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services.nnHHS hopes to tie 30% of traditional Medicare payments to quality or value through what are known as “alternative payment models” by the end of 2016, up from 20%. These models include accountable care organizations, which are groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers responsible for the health of a group of patients.nnThe plans include “bundled payments,” which are groups of payments for treatments for the same issue, such as an injury. By the end of 2018, HHS hopes to link 50% of payments to these arrangements.nn”Today’s announcement is about improving the quality of care we receive when we are sick, while at the same time spending our health care dollars more wisely,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a news release. “We believe these goals can drive transformative change, help us manage and track progress and create accountability for measurable improvement.”nnHealth care, including for Medicare patients, has traditionally used the “fee for service” model that pays providers for each individual treatment rather than for the overall treatment of a patient or group of patients. That is, they are paid for making people better; not just for trying.nnFor consumers, the end result of HHS’ push should be better health care, but it may not seem that way to some.nn“Burdens are being placed on doctors who have to explain that more care isn’t always the best care,” says physician Lisa Bielamowicz, chief medical officer and executive director at the Advisory Board, which provides health care research and consulting. Americans have believed for years “that another test and another prescription is always better, but clinical evidence shows that isn’t always the case.”nnHHS’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services set a goal of tying 85% of all traditional Medicare payments to quality or value by 2016 and 90% by 2018 through programs such as its “value-based purchasing” and readmission reduction programs. These programs reward or penalize hospitals depending on their quality, which is sometimes defined as whether patients need to be readmitted within 30 days of being discharged.nnThis is the first time HHS has set goals for alternative payment models for Medicare.n
nSource: www.usatoday.com; Jayne O’Donnell; January 26, 2015.