CMS to provide incentives to cut down infections, errors

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in the planning stages of a long-term commitment to provide incentives to hospitals treating Medicare and Medicaid patients and insurers to help avoid hospital-acquired infections and readmissions, report California HealthLine and Inside Health Reform. According to CMS documents, it would link the program to its National Patient Safety Initiative and earmark as much as $70 billion for the effort.

The initiative would place 6 percent of Medicare payments to hospitals under new performance guidelines--including the reporting of medical errors and meeting enhanced safety measures. That amount would increase to 9 percent of payments by the middle of this decade. More incentives would also be made available for payers and providers to participate in programs that reach certain patient safety goals and keep treatments more affordable.

In recent years, Medicare and Medicaid have begun to withhold payments if patients acquired certain infections or were the victims of medical errors during their hospital stay.

Similar to its Recovery Audit Contract (RAC) program, CMS would hire outside contractors to monitor the progress being made by hospitals and determine their payments.

In addition to the initiative, CMS is also mulling ways to disseminate best practices data to providers.

For more:
- read the California HealthLine article
- here's a link to the Inside Health Reform report