FierceHealthcare.com today reported that CMS (those lovely folks with all them rules), launched three new policies Tuesday that continue the push toward value-based care, rewarding hospitals that work with physicians and other providers to avoid complications, prevent readmissions and speed recovery.
The newly finalized policies are meant to improve cardiac and orthopedic care, and also create an accountable care organization (ACO) track for small practices, according to the report.
There will be three new cardiac care payment models for hospitals and clinicians who treat patients for heart attacks, heart surgery to bypass blocked coronary arteries, or cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack or heart surgery.
Federal officials said that the cost of their care…varied by 50% across hospitals and the share of patients readmitted to the hospital within 30 days also varied by 50%. Medicare, the article points out, spent more than $6 billion in 2014 for care provided to 200,000 Medicare patients who were hospitalized for heart attack treatment or underwent bypass surgery.
As for orthopedic care, the new payment model is for physicians and hospitals that provide care to patients who receive surgery after a hip fracture, other than hip replacement.
They also finalized updates to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, which began earlier this year.
So far, that’s three models. But wait, there are more where those came from.
There’s the new Medicare ACO Track 1+ Model, that has a more limited downside risk than other tracks in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (another model I discussed a while back in the post, “Shared Savings ACO Program reaps the most for Primary-care Physicians“).
These new five-year models provide clinicians with other ways to qualify for a 5% incentive payment through the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) path under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and the Quality Payment Program. (three more models — so many, in fact, I am losing count)
Why am I pointing out the problem with the release of new payment models?
I’ll tell you why. When I began my MHA (Masters in Health Administration) degree program, I took an online elective on Healthcare Quality. The textbook we read discussed how CMS over a period of several decades, created and instituted so many models and programs, that it made me wonder why our health care system was so complex, expensive and so out of whack compared to health care systems of other industrialized countries.
The answer was simple. Too many models, programs, rules, and so on that only gum up the works and make real reform not only impossible, but even more remote a possibility as more of these inane models are added to what is already a broken system.
Winston Churchill said that you can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after all the other things were tried. We are still on the trying part, and I am afraid we will never get to where Sir Winston said we would.