Appropriate Use Criteria, or how I learned to love CMS telling doctors what to do

As part of Section 218(b) of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, CMS instituted the appropriate use criteria (AUC) for the use of advanced diagnostic imaging.  In order to be reimbursed for these diagnostic imaging services, physicians must consult with and document that they used AUC software before recommending advanced diagnostic imaging.  Failing to document use…

Medicare’s value-based purchasing fail?

Value-based payment is the latest hot topic.  One question remains, however, does it work?  Does paying for quality improve quality.  A study by Zuckerman et al. (2016) finds that the hospital readmissions reduction program (HRRP) did appear to reduce re-hospitalization rates among the targeted conditions. What about the hospital value-based purchasing program (HVBP).  Beginning in…

Will MACRA kill small physician practices?

Depending on the source, 34% to 59% percent of physicians are employed in practices of less than 10 physicians.  On the other hand, 39% of physicians are employed by hospitals.  How will these proportions change over time? An interesting paper by Casalino (2017) examines the impact of the  Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) on…

Effect of Medicare Part D on Mortality

Huh and Reif (2017) have an interesting study of the effect of Medicare Part D on mortality.  The abstract is below. We investigate the implementation of Medicare Part D and estimate that this prescription drug benefit program reduced elderly mortality by 2.2% annually. This was driven primarily by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality, the leading cause of…

How does payment reform affect providers in competitive vs. non-competitive markets?

How does payment reform affect access to care?  And what does payment reform mean? Payment reform can mean manythings but in this context we will mean substituting fee-for-service or cost-plus reimbursement schemes for fixed reimbursement for a fixed episodes of care or fixed bundles of services during a specific time frame. One example of how payment reform worked,…

What is causing U.S. debt to explode?

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) 2017 Long-Term Budget Outlook, you need to look no further than entitlements for the elderly. Mandatory programs have accounted for a rising share of the federal government’s noninterest spending over the past few decades, exceeding 60 percent for the past several years. Much of the growth has occurred because…

Innovative Cancer Care models

What does CMS consider to be innovative oncology care?  The following three programs won a CMS Health Care Innovation Award for their initiative. Community Oncology Medical Home (COME HOME).  This model relied on three key principles: (i) triage pathways to help first responders and nurses identify and manage patient symptoms; (ii) enhanced access to care through…

Avoiding unnecessary care: Does insurance coverage matter?

Consumer Reports‘ “Choosing Wisely” initiative aims to identify high-cost, low-value treatments that can often be avoided.  One question remains is why do providers still offer these services?  Do payer coverage policies or reimbursement rules affect these choices? A paper by Colla et al. (2017) attempts to answer that question.  The authors used commercial payer claims data…

Medicare Advantage and Upcoding

Medicare’s cost are growing due to an aging population, technological advances, and other factors.  One of those factors may be upcoding that is occurring among Medicare Advantage plans.  Rick Kronick writes in Health Affairs that: Over the past decade, the average risk score for Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees has risen steadily relative to that for fee-for-service…