Next Things First

Value-Based Purchasing: Coming to a Hospital Near You (From Hal Andrews) by charlottegee
December 2, 2008, 11:15 am
Filed under: health policy, quality, value-based purchasing | Tags: , ,

Remember the halcyon days of 2007, when the stock markets reached their peak? In the midst of the (seeming) boom, Congress instructed CMS to submit recommendations for an initiative called Value-Based Purchasing (VBP). In November 2007, CMS submitted its outline of a VBP initiative to Congress. The lynchpin of VBP is “to transform Medicare from a passive payer of claims to an active purchaser of care”.

Since that day, CMS, particularly Thomas Valuck, MD, MHSA, JD, the Medical Officer and Senior Advisor to CMS, has spoken widely about its plans to implement VBP.

In a nutshell, VBP proposes to link payments to results, including quality, efficiency, patient satisfaction, and other measures. CMS’s November 2007 proposal suggests that hospitals should be rewarded for sustained excellence and improvements from a baseline. On November 26, 2008 CMS issued a release regarding the development of VBP for physicians.

Back to the fall of 2007 – if Congress was contemplating VBP when times were good, then today’s economic woes seem likely to accelerate the concept. Senator Baucus’ plan advocates the implementation of VBP, though a bit more slowly than CMS has proposed. The Baucus plan, which incorporates many of the tenets of President-elect Obama’s plans and received the initial blessing of Senator Kennedy, is a possible launchpad for reform in the Obama administration.

If you ask a hospital executive what VBP is, you get various answers, and occasionally a blank stare. If you ask the Federation of American Hospitals, you get a lecture on how CMS adopts regulations (sort of like the old Saturday morning “Schoolhouse Rock” episode on how a bill becomes a law).

On the other hand, every hospital executive knows about POA and RAC and P4P and HCAHPS and Never Events and Core Measures. Many hospital executives have approached these initiatives as discrete (and unrelated) initiatives. Connecting the dots of these seemingly unrelated initiatives reveals the outline of VBP.

Ask a hospital CFO to estimate the amount of revenue at risk under POA and RAC and Never Events and P4P – most of them can get to 5-10% of revenue pretty quickly. Couple that with declining investment income, and hospitals should have a new urgency to understand where they are in a VBP environment.

VBP, in some form, is headed to a hospital near you. Hospitals have always ultimately adapted to changes in the financing of healthcare, but usually reluctantly and slowly.

Value can, and will, be defined for healthcare, and CMS is leading the charge. History suggests that private payers will not be far behind. If you don’t know your value proposition today in comparison to your peers, time is not on your side. If you don’t join the discussion of how value should be defined, others will fill that void.

Submitted by Hal Andrews


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