Study: Spending measure in value-based purchasing program rewards low-quality hospitals

A Medicare spending measure increases the chance that a low-quality and low-spending hospital will get a bonus, according to a new report.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last year added the spending measure to its Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program, which also rewards or penalizes hospitals based on quality of care. Researchers find in a study published in Health Affairs that of the 2,679 hospitals that participated in the program from 2014-2015, 38 percent of low-spending hospitals received bonuses in 2014, compared to 100 percent in 2015.

At the same time, larger, for-profit or urban organizations got hit with more penalties; they often spend up to $5,657 more per episode of care than the smaller organizations. The researchers say CMS should add a threshold for minimum quality to prevent low-quality and low-spending hospitals from being rewarded. Study abstract