Today’s payment system is riddled with perverse incentives that reward volume and high profit margin services, regardless of value, outcomes, or appropriateness. This rule is a much needed effort to begin attacking this problem at its root. It is an important thread in the fabric of provisions created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide better care at lower cost.
Our fragmented system is costly in both financial and human terms, and these costs are unconscionable and unsustainable. This is especially true for the most vulnerable among us — older persons with multiple health problems. These are the patients who suffer the most when care is fragmented, services are uncoordinated, and medical errors are rampant. They get sicker, their care gets more costly, their outcomes worsen, and their family caregivers endure enormous strain that is avoidable. This rule is a significant step in helping these patients and their families. We are especially pleased that measuring patients’ experience of care is an important component of the rule, since it is the only way to get systematic feedback directly from patients and their families about the changes hospitals need to make to improve health outcomes.
While today’s rule is an important advancement, hard work remains. At the end of the day, what matters to patients is whether their outcomes improved, and whether their doctors are talking to each other to coordinate high-quality care. Yet these areas are where we have the fewest measures available to tell us how well our health care system is doing. We look forward to working with CMS to change that.
Ultimately this is about getting to a health care system that is patient-centered, coordinated, safe and efficient. To do that, we must use the right quality measures, publicly report results and pay for good performance. Today’s rule moves us forward by rewarding hospitals that provide this kind of care, which will help reduce medical errors, unnecessary readmissions and ultimately reduce costs. Everybody wins when that happens.
On behalf of the Campaign for Better Care, we commend the Department of Health & Human Services for taking this essential step to transform our health care system."
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.