Reform bill's 'value index' could mean more pay for higher-quality doctors

While the proposal hasn't received much coverage in reviews of the health-reform process, both the Senate and House reform bills include one interesting provision that could change the way CMS pays physicians who treat Medicare patients. Both bills include a Medicare "value index" designed to pay higher rates to physicians who are considered to deliver higher-quality care.

Under the terms of the provision, the HHS secretary would establish uniform definitions for quality that would serve as the basis of the index. Depending on whether the House or Senate version is adopted, HHS may or may not have to do a study to justify its definitions.

Specific cost and quality measures would be published in 2012, and the following year, CMS would then implement the value-based adjustment process. Physicians would begin to see changes in their Medicare payment structure by 2015, and two years later, all physician payments would be subject to this modifier.

The AMA has come out against the measure, though at least one state association, the Minnesota Medical Association, would like to see the provision made law.

To find out more about the value index:
- read this Minnesota Medical Association press release

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