This year brings about several big dates related to health reform that payers should be aware of. Although some of the biggest reform-related changes are yet to come, 2012 will see the Obama Administration create a policy foundation for the upcoming provisions, while reform opponents attempt to overturn the law altogether, reports the Washington Post's Wonkblog.
Three key dates payers should mark on the calendar are the following events:
- Jan. 1: Accountable care organizations (ACOs) go live. On Jan. 1, the 32 healthcare systems chosen as ACO Pioneers went live and started accepting a flat fee for all care related to a small group of their Medicare patients. If their experiment is successful, it could end fee-for-service medicine in favor of pay for performance; if it's unsuccessful, it could bring lawmakers back to the drawing board.
- Oct. 1: Medicare payments are reformed again. Medicare will start using new value-based purchasing policies to tie hospitals' payments to performance metrics. Medicare also will begin penalizing hospitals for readmitted patients of preventable complications.
- Dec. 31: Certification of health insurance exchanges. States must have the Obama Administration certify that they've made enough progress with their exchange to launch in 2014. If not, they must implement a federally run exchange.