Obama gets some hospital support for turning MedPAC into rate-setting authority

While the majority of industry groups remain opposed to the idea, President Obama has won over some hospitals to his proposal to form an independent commission which would determine how much Medicare pays providers.

President Obama would like to upgrade the Medicare Payment Advisory Council, which gave advice but had no power to enact its recommendations, into a much more powerful agency called the Independent Medicare Advisory Council. The IMAC's recommendations would automatically be enacted unless Congress passed a joint resolution within a month of their being issued.

Some of the most vocal supporters of the new authority are so-called "model" systems, such as the Mayo Clinic, which the Obama administration has singled out of late for their ability to deliver high quality care at relatively low cost. They've been won over by assurances that the new Medicare system would emphasize value purchasing over paying for volume of services delivered. Other supporters come from varied sectors of the hospital industry.

The American Hospital Association is opposed to this concept, as is the Association of American Medical Colleges, which argues that the proposal is an "extreme shift of authority from the legislative to the executive branch," according to association CEO Atul Grover. However, CHRISTUS Health, a Catholic health system with more than 50 hospitals, has come out in favor of this strategy, arguing that the new agency would make sure providers were improving quality and improving costs.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this Kaiser Health News piece

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