According to the American Medical News, published by the American Medical Association, Congress is considering a new policy of paying both doctors and hospitals under Medicare in one payment to treat a particular condition. This includes all office visits and procedures. The current health care reform bill would expand the proposed “bundled payment” system.
Why the proposed change? Lawmakers and “other policy circles” think the Medicare fee-for-service payment system isn’t working, and bundled payments would facilitate a better system
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission believes bundling payments will provide an incentive for doctors and hospitals to work together to keep quality high and costs down. Naturally, some doctors believe hospitals will have too much control over how they’re paid. An excerpt of the article:
“Physicians must be involved in decisions about where bundled payments go, how and to whom they’re distributed, and what the distribution criteria are, said William Kobler, MD, the council’s chair-elect, speaking on his own behalf. ‘It’s not that we don’t ‘trust’ the hospitals, but we want to be sure that, if we’re working together on this, physicians get paid their fair share.’
“Michael Zucker, senior vice president and chief development officer at Baptist Health System, understands that concern. ‘If I were a physician, the very last place I would want my money going to is the hospital. What happens when it gets to the hospital?’
“San Antonio-based Baptist is one of five sites chosen for the Medicare bundled payment initiative known as the Acute Care Episode Demonstration. The three-year project, which launched in the spring of 2009, bundles Part A and Part B payment for inpatient episodes of care for select orthopedic and cardiovascular procedures. It currently is active at two sites. Participants are required to have a physician-hospital organization, but the payment goes to the hospital for distribution.”