Medicare is apparently going to be getting into the game of paying (very modestly) for quality measures, or more accurately modestly punishing for the lack of reporting on it. According to Health-IT World:
The government said it would begin punishing hospitals by cutting Medicare payments to nonreporting hospitals by 0.4% if they failed to provide adequate quality data. The threatened punishment is slated to begin in fiscal year 2005. The new effort, part of the Medicare Prescription Drug bill, offers an inducement for hospitals to collect data on 10 different measures in three different therapeutic areas: heart attack treatment, heart failure treatment, and pneumonia care. Hospitals will need to begin submitting data by July 1.
It’s not the first effort to gather quality data — the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO) requires data for hospital accreditation, and the Leapfrog Group has a payment-for-quality effort — but it is the largest, touching all hospitals that deal with the government. Initially, submission of the data on the 10 measures is all that will be required to avoid getting docked the 0.4%, but healthcare watchers expect additional measures to be added as time passes. Additional incentives will be put in place to reward not only the reporting of data but also the quality of care.
Well funnily enough this may have yet more impacts on our old friends at Tenet. Remember back when I told you about Tenet’s ending its JACHO reporting contract with Perot and giving the contract to a small company with 20 employees and one DSL line? Well apparently the small company received a scathing two page email from another company for whom it provides a JACHO reporting application. That’s 3/3 on irate emails from companies that it’s doing that for. My source suggests that the soon-to-start Tenet operation is a train wreck in the works, which suggests that Tenet’s reporting to Medicare is also going to have the same potential problems. At least it’s likely they’ll have fewer hospitals to deal with, I suppose! A fact that pummelled Tenet’s stock the other week after it also took a $1.4 billion charge connected to the sale of those hospitals.