Quality not quantity is something we simply cannot tolerate in Medicare. But according to this story from today’s New York Times (via my Herald-Tribune), that’s just what’s coming your way under the new health care law.
For the first time, Medicare will soon track spending on millions of individual beneficiaries, reward hospitals that hold down costs and penalize those whose patients prove most expensive . . . A major goal of the new health care law, often overlooked, is to improve “the quality and efficiency of health care” by linking payments to the performance of health care providers. The new Medicare initiative, known as value-based purchasing, will redistribute money among more than 3,100 hospitals.
And surprise, surprise, the hospitals are all hot and bothered. Apparently we will all now die.
Charles N. Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents investor-owned companies, said . . . the administration was “off track” in trying to hold hospitals accountable for what Medicare spends on patients two or three months after they leave the hospital. “That’s unrealistic, beyond the pale,” Kahn said.
. . . .For years, federal health officials have emphasized the importance of higher-quality care, mentioning efficiency as an afterthought. Now, alarmed at the trajectory of Medicare costs, they emphasize efficiency as an equally important goal.
This part of Medicare reform is aimed at reducing the growth of spending and cuts into the out of control “fee for service” culture that drives hospital costs. It’s been a goal of reformers for years, if not decades. It starts next year.
Whatever the argument will be, expect one from the Republicans becauseany positive result interrupts their script and their script says Medicare must not be saved.