Berwick on Incentivizing Health Care Value

Brian Klepper

AAFP (The American Academy of Family Physicians) News Now has an excellent interview with CMS Administrator Donald Berwick MD, in which Dr. Berwick describes his vision of more integrated and less fragmented health care delivery, and the changes in reimbursement incentives that will be required to get us there. An excerpt is below. Click the link above to read the entire piece. Worth your time.

Q. You also have talked about this being the era of health care delivery improvement. Can you explain that? 

A. Paying for value is an incentive. It is a motivation toward improvement. The underlying idea of improvement is that American health care, historically built in fragments, often cannot achieve for patients what it really wants to achieve. No one really wants that. Health delivery system reform refers to really reconfiguring care into much more seamless coordinated-care operations so that people, especially those with chronic illnesses, experience continuity of care over time and space.

So when patients come home from the hospital, there is a smooth handoff, and all the necessary information follows them. When they are seeing a specialist, that specialist is coordinating care with their primary care doctor.

In a fragmented payment system, it is so much harder to accomplish this. When payment is based on better integration, the result will be better integration of health care services. A delivery system redesign really means improving care for people when they are sick to ensure that they are safe and care is delivered according to science. And that includes improving seamless and coordinated care for patients — especially people with chronic illnesses. And then there is prevention, (including) a bigger investment in keeping people healthy, helping them to understand how to keep themselves healthy instead of waiting for illness to occur or reoccur, and educating people on how to prevent (illness). All of that involves design.

Q. You spoke briefly about the fee-for-service system. How do you feel about the AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, or RUC?

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Is the ACO DOA? Reasonable Minds Can Improve the Draft Regulations

David Harlow

First published 5/17/11 on HealthBlawg

In the current all-ACO, all the time, health care policy news cycle, we’ve been inundated with declarations that the ACO is dead, because a handful of big boys say they don’t want to play.http://healthblawg.typepad.com/

Today, CMS announced that it is tinkering with the proposed ACO rules by offering three variations on the ACO theme (link to press release; see also CMS ACO fact sheet).  From the fact sheet:

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Facing Uncertainty: Why Primary Care Physicians Must Act Now

Brian Klepper

Over the past four months, the germ of a long overdue primary care uprising has sprouted and begun to flower. When David Kibbe and I first tried to think through how to neutralize the RUC’s terrible influence on American health care, we realized the first steps had to be the primary care community’s refusal to continue “enabling” the RUC – we meant this very much in the clinical sense – through its continued participation and complicity. When the game is rigged against you, there is no benefit in staying at the table.

Primary care societies would visibly and noisily abandon the RUC, with the understanding that quietly walking away would be counterproductive in the extreme. It should be a highly publicized exit, filled with righteous indignation and clarifying for the American public how the RUC’s actions and relationship with CMS have shafted patients, primary care physicians, and the people who pay for health care in America.

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ACO Rules “Impenetrable”

Merrill Goozner

First published 4/19/11 at Gooz News

Michael Millenson, a health care consultant who many moons ago worked as I did at the Chicago Tribune, has offered a scathing critique of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ proposed rules for setting up accountable care organizations (ACOs), which are health care reform’s primary delivery system reform. Says Millenson on the Health Care Blog:

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ACO Fairy Tale Faces a Rumpelstiltskin Moment

Michael Millenson

First published 4/19/11 on Kaiser Health News

The ACO fairy tale is drawing perilously close to an unhappy ending.

The government’s long-awaited draft regulations on Accountable Care Organizations have brought a dose of ugly reality to a concept that’s always seemed coated with a patina of pixie dust. Unless those regs are substantially changed before the clock strikes Jan. 1, 2012 — the statutory date for ACO implementation — Cinderella’s going to turn back into a scullery maid and the horse-drawn carriage transporting her to the Health System Transformation Ball will be revealed as nothing more than four mice and a pumpkin.

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