Federal bill would link Medicare hospital pay to quality

Now here's a bill that would scare me a bit if I were a hospital administrator--even if it was inevitable (and it is) that such a measure would be written. Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have drafted legislation that would link Medicare reimbursement for inpatient hospital care to the quality of that care rather than the number of services provided. 

Yes, this is the way things have been going for some time, between the drive to bundle care--as Geisinger has done with some procedures--and quality incentives, but this definitely takes things a step further in the direction of so-called "value-based purchasing." (Value-based purchasing: now there's a concept that's a million times easier to talk about than to actually realize.)

The bill would kick off the new policy in fiscal 2012 and be phased in over four years through FY 2016. Medicare reimbursement levels would be based on quality standards from a list of measures from several groups, including the National Quality Forum.

To learn more about this bill:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report article

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