The Department of Health and Human Services under the Trump administration has taken aim at the payment changes made by the Obama administration, and some healthcare industry experts are cautiously optimistic about what the new approach means for value-based care.
Michael Chernew, Ph.D., a healthcare economist at Harvard Medical School, supports the transition to value-based care and told The New York Times that his conversations with HHS officials indicate they're still committed to that cause.
"My general sense, and I've met with them, is that they genuinely want to try to have a better set of payment models," Chernew said. "They don't just want to try to blow everything up."
Many physicians in particular looked to former HHS secretary Tom Price, M.D., as a potential advocate who could ease the regulations that were ushered in during the Obama era. Price, who resigned in September amid controversy about his use of private planes for travel, was something of a "best friend" to physicians in the Trump administration.
As a congressman, Price strongly opposed mandatory bundled payment programs. And under his leadership, HHS took steps to end those programs, a move supported by some industry groups, including the American Hospital Association, which said that making the programs mandatory was a step too far.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has also shown willingness to re-examine regulations that were issued under the prior administration. CMS, for instance, is looking to take the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in a "new direction" and is soliciting feedback on the agency's existing payment models. "We will move away from the assumption that Washington can engineer a more efficient healthcare system from afar—that we should specify the processes healthcare providers are required to follow," Verma said.
Although physicians may stand to benefit from a regulatory rollback, Tim Gronniger, a deputy chief of staff at CMS under the Obama administration, told the NYT that the agency may be sending mixed messages.
"They've confused people," Gronniger told the publication. "The risk that HHS and Tom Price created is that some physicians incorrectly read the press release or hear from their colleagues that Medicare is cancelling value-based purchasing and think all of that's over."