Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Congressional Quarterly offers an update on the FY 2011 budget negotiations. The negotiators still have ten days to avoid a Government shutdown on April 9. Both the President and the House leadership have stated that they do not want another short term extension; they want closure on an issue that should have been resolved last year. A complicating factor is the new House leadership's pledge to make bills be made public for at least 72 hours before the House votes, but hope springs eternal.

Thomson Reuters Healthcare released its 2011 U.S. hospital ratings.  The Wall Street Journal reported on the Veterans' Affairs Departments VA Hospital Compare which sets the bar for quality reporting. Of course the VA manages the health system but the agency deserves credit for this high level of transparency. It's unfortunate that other health care organizations do not engage in the same level of self-policing. VA Hospital Compare should be helpful to the many federal employees and annuitants who are veterans. Thank you for your service.

On a related note, the Wall Street Journal reports on its efforts to unveil the practice patterns of unscrupulous physicians by mining the Medicare claims database.  However, since 1979, a federal court acting at the request of the American Medical Association has enjoined the public from using this database to identify Medicare claims payments information to doctors by name.  The Journal has tried to work around this limitation while bringing a lawsuit to terminate the injunction.                      

Finally, the FEHBlog learned in a BNA publication about a Deloitte consulting report on healthcare value based purchasing, an objective of the Affordable Care Act. "Value-based purchasing (VBP) is a payment methodology that holds health care providers accountable for the quality and cost of the services they provide by a system of rewards and consequences, conditional upon achieving pre-specified performance measures."  The report, among other topics,
  • Looks ahead to VBP implementation under health care reform legislation;
  • Reviews commercial health plans' response to VBP and other payment reforms;
  • Discusses potential challenges of implementing VBP;
  • Provides key takeaways for health care providers, employers, health plans, state and federal government, and consumers

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