Since the GOP began talks of a new healthcare bill during the 2016 campaign, there has been much debate about what the future of healthcare might look like. On May 4, a glimpse was provided: the Republicans introduced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a bill that would eliminate many of the provisions the Affordable Care Act (ACA) afforded.Ultimately, the bill must be approved by the Senate before it becomes law, and debate among and across party lines can almost guarantee the bill won’t emerge unchanged. But, despite the uncertainty of the AHCA, other recent healthcare legislation shows that more seemingly bipartisan initiatives, like value-based care, are here to stay.
Decreased Costs, Improved Care
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have elected to roll out expansions of the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+), an initiative in which CMS and other insurers pay a monthly fee for patient primary care visits. The aim of this initiative, to be rolled out in early 2018 to four new markets, is to improve the lives of patients on Medicare and Medicaid by improving health outcomes and lowering costs. While this expansion could be halted altogether by the AHCA, it has helped to further instill the principles of care coordination, and enables those providers most responsible for the patient to ensure their care is complete.
Delays for Better Care
2018 is shaping to be a busy year for health regulation roll-outs; CMS decided that it will push back implementation of new home health Conditions of Participations’ (CoPs) six months, slating the new deadline for January 2018. CoPs, which dictate whether HHAs qualify to participate in Medicare/Medicaid, will require more training and new quality assessments and performance improvement benchmarks. This is good news for HHAs. Ultimately, this delay gives them more time to be better prepared to adhere to new standards so that they can be successful and efficiently deliver quality care.
Pressuring Hospitals to Empower Patients
CMS is also trying to improve hospital transparency in a proposal to make data concerning hospital accreditation, safety and compliance available to the public. Making these records available allows patients to trace a hospital’s record of continuous compliance – where hospital staff is doing the right thing, at all levels – and can empower them to make the best decisions when choosing a provider. This puts pressure on the hospital; missteps made public will put reputations under the magnifying glass. But this pressure can drive hospitals to provide better care in the long term, and the American Hospital Association has indicated its support of the rule.
Improving Care, Everywhere
Legislators are also taking measures to patch up other holes in the system, like the struggle to draw clinicians to rural hospitals. The Rural Wisconsin Initiative proposes to provide funding to support economic development, education, and an extensive infrastructure to support training in rural hospitals. The fear for clinicians when moving to a rural hospital is that there is not an opportunity to grow, and they won’t have the necessary resources at their fingertips that they would at a large urban facility. The goal of the program is to assuage those fears, and draw more talented clinicians to the area.
While Washington searches for a solution to our national healthcare bill, other regulatory updates show that the trend towards value-based care will not fall by the wayside. Transitioning to value-based care and adopting new strategies to provide better care may be a learning curve in the short term for providers, but will undoubtedly push us in the right direction to improve our healthcare system overall.