ACA: Hospitals still torn between volume and value equations

As the Affordable Care Act begins its massive rollout in the coming months, there is a debate over what the final financial verdict will be for hospitals, reported USA Today. But providers are focused on patient volume above all.

And while hospital executives are aware of the fact they will receive more money for the quality of care, it's unclear how they will handle the millions of new insured patients who enroll through Medicaid and state insurance exchanges.

"I think if you distilled HCA's strategy to just a few brief points it would be guaranteeing as much volume as possible, offering good services, having as much market share as possible, and, if you are signing people up through exchanges, making sure you're getting that guaranteed exchange volume," Michael Waterhouse, an analyst for Morningstar, told USA Today.

Hospitals could be paid more for charity care cases, but may also wind up with much higher volumes of high-use patients who could drive up costs and wear out the medical staff, according to USA Today.

Partly as a result, academics tell hospital radiology departments to focus more on value rather than volume, even though the latter may still will out for a time.

"We have to understand that today, we are still paid for volume," said Kevin Locke, managing partner of the accounting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman, which consults on ACA-related issues. "As we migrate from that system to one that pays for value, we have to stay financially solvent. It's figuring out that puzzle in the middle."

To learn more:
- read the USA Today article

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