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Last-Minute Heath Reform Change Gives New Life to Quality-Based Payments

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, March 25, 2010

But there's more. As part of the agreement, the Quality Care Coalition secured a letter from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that promised several more steps to change Medicare reimbursement rates for Washington's medical providers:

  • An Institute of Medicine (IOM) study, to be launched April 2010, that will look at how to reform the Medicare system to address geographic disparities for doctors and hospitals; implementation of the IOM recommendations would occur by December 2012.
  • An IOM study, beginning in April as well, based on earlier House passed language making firm recommendations to move toward high-quality, low-cost care across the healthcare sector.

Both of these provisions had been included in the earlier House bill but not the Senate bill. Sebelius made a personal commitment as well to convene a National Summit on Geographic Variation, Cost, Access and Value in Health Care in September later this year.

Additionally, attention was focused on the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to further test innovative models to incent high quality, low cost care across the provider spectrum.

"If you want to cut the deficit, if you want to save Medicare, if you want to grow the economy, and if you want to have quality healthcare, the status quo isn't good enough," said Inslee in a statement.

Added Braley, "This compromise represents a major breakthrough in healthcare reform that will finally reward Iowa's medical providers for the high quality care they've been providing Iowa's families for years."

"After negotiating directly with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and representatives from the White House late Friday into the early hours of Saturday morning," he added, "I'm proud to say the healthcare bill will finally fix these inequities, move us to a better reimbursement model that emphasizes quality over quantity, and helps recruit well qualified healthcare providers."


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Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.

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