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White House Reels in Changes to CMS Programs Aimed at Reducing Costs and Waste

The White House recently announced it planned to scale back initiatives put in place by the previous administration to reduce wasteful spending created by the complexities of the country’s healthcare system. As a result, officials from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies (CMS) said they will no longer be operation on an aggressive timeline put in to place which sought to link increases in Medicare payments based on the quality of care patients received from hospitals which received the funding.

 

The objective of the direction taken by the Obama administration was to overhaul the nation’s largest health care program by altering payments to doctors and hospitals so that these providers would be incentivized to reduce unnecessary services that can put a drain on resources. The hope was that doctors would coordinate patient care, resulting in lowering healthcare costs while still maintaining vital revenue streams from Medicare that providers rely upon to do business.

 

To reach that goal, officials announced back in 2015 that in just three-years, half of Medicare payments to hospitals would be tied to standards on patient quality of care. However, White House officials recently told some news outlets that the new administration would instead conduct a review of how well the plan did or did not work at achieving this goal. While the Trump administration is not likely to fully do away with the initiatives, it is unlikely the proposed timeline will remain in place.

 

Fortunately, the current administration recognizes the need to revamp the nation’s health care system to reduce the financial burden not only on individuals but also on the taxpayer as well. Under the current system, doctor’s receive CMS fees based on the number and types of services provided and constitutes an important revenue stream for major portions of the country’s health care system.

 

Last November, CMS cancelled two “bundled payment” programs for joint replacement and cardiac rehabilitation that pay doctors and hospitals a flat payment covering the duration of a procedure and recovery. However, in January 2015 the administration which allows doctors to participate in bundled payments for 32 different kinds of medical procedures, including major joint replacements and spinal fusion. What initiatives and timelines from the Obama administration’s proposals remain to be seen but what is likely assured is the dropping of the 50 percent reform of Medicare payments by the end of this year.

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