Medicare’s latest payment rules for joint replacement surgeries is another step forward on the path toward bundled payments and similar value-based reimbursement models
By now, most clinical laboratory managers and pathologists know about an ambitious new Medicare program that essentially brings a value-based reimbursement model to joint replacement surgeries. The program has already commenced in a number of regional markets across the United States.
This new program was instituted by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). It is mandatory program and reimburses providers for hip and knee replacements using a reimbursement model that further ties Medicare payments to quality or value metrics. This program was launched in 67 metropolitan areas.
Called the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model, it establishes a 90-day episode of care from the date of the replacement procedure. Hospitals remain accountable for all charges related to recovery and rehabilitation within this window.
Faster than expected transition from fee-for-service healthcare should grab attention of clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups who face financial unknowns under new payment systems
Clinical laboratory executives should take note of a key financial fact. The transition from fee-for-service healthcare to value-based reimbursement is occurring at a faster clip than the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) anticipated last year when federal officials announced a plan to tie 30% of traditional Medicare spending to alternative payments models by the end of 2016.
That means the transition away from fee-for-service payment for medical laboratory tests and other healthcare services is moving ahead of schedule. As evidence, HHS recently announced it reached the 30% target at the start of 2016, nearly a year ahead of the schedule laid out when the Obama Administration outlined a plan to reward healthcare providers based on quality of care rather than the volume of services they provide.
AJMC study shows ACOs that allocate majority of shared savings to primary care providers are more likely to generate savings
When it came time to pay bonuses to Medicare’s Pioneer ACOs and Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs based on 2014 results, a substantial proportion of the payments went to primary care physicians compared to hospitals and specialist physicians. Significantly, only a minority of these ACOs qualified for bonus payments.
Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers watching the growth of ACOs will find it notable that primary care doctors received 46% of the shared-savings bonuses in the program’s first two years. Hospitals received 27% of the incentives while 20% went to specialists, according to a Modern Healthcare report.
High Expectations That ACOs Can Help Control Healthcare Costs
Twenty Pioneer ACOs and 333 Medicare’s Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs combined to produce more than $411 million in total savings in 2014, although only 29% of the organizations generated enough savings to earn a bonus, a CMS Fact Sheet indicated.
“These results show that accountable care organizations as a group are on the path towards transforming how care is provided,” stated CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in a statement. “Many of these ACOs are demonstrating that they can deliver a higher level of coordinated care that leads to healthier people and smarter spending.” (more…)
Clinical laboratories and pathology groups can expect to see more growth in the number of patients served by ACOs and that will require labs to have a new pricing strategy
Will ACOs be the next big thing in American healthcare? Many people are betting that will be true as the number of ACOs continues to increase. Some reports indicate that as many as 750 Medicare and private ACOs were in operation as of early 2015, compared to about 250 ACOs in 2013.
Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers watching the ACO trend will find it significant that Medicare ACOs now serve about 5.6 million beneficiaries. According to a report issued by Oliver Wyman, that is about 11% of all Medicare beneficiaries. Providers in these ACOs are paid under a different arrangement than the long-established Part B fee-for-service price schedule.
The big question mark about ACOs is whether they can deliver significant cost savings while improving patient outcomes. This summer, officials at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported on the savings generated by the agency’s pilot ACO programs. The two main accountable care organization programs are the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and the Pioneer ACO Program. (more…)
As national health insurers push more risk to hospital systems and medical groups, many hospital administrators become more interested in establishing their own health insurance companies
New modes of provider reimbursement—such as bundled payments and budgeted payments—are motivating hospitals and health systems to reconsider their existing relationships with health insurers. Hospital administrators want to control the dollars they save by improving patient care, instead of allowing insurance companies to capture that money.
To accomplish these goals, more and more hospitals and health systems across the country are making one of three moves:
• Funding their own health plans;
• Partnering with health insurance companies; or,
• Buying health insurance companies.
As this trend gathers momentum, it will put the medical laboratories of hospitals in a much better position to regain access to patients. It can be expected that hospital administrators will include their own clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology providers in their own health insurance provider networks. (more…)