In This Issue...

Commonwealth Fund Proposes Payment Reforms

The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, a private sector policy institute, is recommending ten health policy changes to restrain health care spending.  According to the Commission, the adoption of these policies would cut US health expenditures by $2 trillion over the next ten years.  The think tank is urging policymakers to:   

  • Link future increases in health care spending to the rate of economic growth rate; 
  • Promote payment reforms, such as bundling, accountable care organizations and medical homes;
  • Institute competitive bidding for medical commodities such as drugs, equipment, and supplies; and
  • Simplify and unify administrative policies and procedures across health care systems and providers.

The Fund suggests that these 'improvements,' along with other suggested changes, will enhance the delivery of care in the United States, while also reducing the federal deficit.  Congress has until March 1st to reduce federal spending by $1.2 trillion otherwise automatic payment cuts will be triggered.  To see the entire Commonwealth Fund report, please visit its Website.

CMS Announces Increase in ACOs

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that another 106 Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have been created to serve Medicare patients, bringing the total number formed since the enactment of health care reform to approximately 250.  Under this care model, both Medicare and the provider share in any cost savings generated through improved coordination of patient care.  In addition, ACOs must report on and meet 33 quality measures focused on:

  • Care coordination and patient safety;
  • Appropriate use of preventive health services;
  • Improved care for at-risk populations; and
  • Patient and caregiver experience of care.

More than 4 million Medicare patients are current served by ACOs nationwide.  CMS estimates that this program could save the federal government up to $940 million over four years.  For more information on this announcement, please read the CMS press release.  For more on the ACO program, please go to the CMS Website.

    AHRQ Seeking Public Comment on Procalcitonin Study

    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking comment on its draft study entitled "Future Research Needs on Procalcitonin-Guided Antibiotic Therapy."  This document, derived from an earlier AACC-initiated AHRQ study on Procalcitonin, identifies three major areas in need of future investigation:  

    The critically ill patient (all ages) with suspected lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) or general infection;
    The patient (all ages) with suspected lower respiratory tract infection in the ambulatory care/emergency department setting; and
    The immunocompromised patient (all ages).

    To view or comment on the draft study, please visit the agency Website.