Bending the Curve in More Ways Than One
02:57 PM EDT
Over the past few days, a number of news articles about health reform have suggested that efforts to control the growth of health care costs are in jeopardy. Great strides to control long-term health care costs have been made in both the Senate and the House — fulfilling a key goal of the President's health reform effort.
- Bundled payments. Bundled payments, which pay a fixed amount for an entire episode of care rather than piecemeal for each individual treatment or procedure, would help improve patient care by encouraging better and more coordinated care than under a fee-for-service system. Bills in both the Senate and the House would develop, test, and evaluate bundled payment methods through a national, voluntary pilot program. Once we see what works and what doesn’t, bundled payments can be quickly scaled up across the country.
- Penalties for high readmissions. Too often, patients are discharged from the hospital without the necessary follow-up care — leading to re-hospitalization, risks to one’s health, and higher costs. Under the proposals being considered, Medicare would collect data on readmission rates by hospital and would assess penalties on those hospitals with high, preventable readmission rates.
- Accountable care organizations (ACOs). Under the current system, quality and efficiency are not sufficiently rewarded, and there is little incentive for physicians to collaborate in the coordination of patient care. Legislation in both houses would encourage and reward ACOs, which are groups of providers that are jointly responsible for the quality and cost of health care services for a population of beneficiaries with chronic conditions.
- Quality incentives for physicians. These proposals would expand quality incentives for physicians and provide more timely feedback on physician performance based on their submitted data.
Peter Orszag is Director of the Office of Management and Budget