This has to be the lamest, most inept, and/or most patronizing Congress in history (with approval ratings to match, 16% as of Sept. 25 according to Rasmussen):
Washington ExaminerThis very same Congress is pushing physicians to implement EHR's under penalty of Medicare payment reductions, while they claim an inability to post a PDF or Word document online. Implementing EHR's is only several orders of magnitude more complex...
Baucus claims it's too difficult to put health care bill online
By: BARBARA HOLLINGSWORTH
A proposal by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., that would have required the Senate Finance Committee to post the final language of the $900 billion health care reform bill, as well as a Congressional Budget Office cost analysis, on the committee’s website for 72 hours prior to a vote was rejected 12-11.
... Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., himself admitted that “This probably sounds a little crazy to some people that we are voting on something before we have seen legislative language.” Indeed.
Baucus’ excuse - that it would take his committee staff two weeks to post the bill online – sounds a little crazy too.
Or, perhaps the "inability" to post the text has to do with text that appears at pages 80-81 of the bill:
"Beginning in 2015, payment [under Medicare] would be reduced by five percent if an aggregation of the physician's resource use is at or above the 90th percentile of national utilization." Thus, in any year in which a particular doctor's average per-patient Medicare costs are in the top 10 percent in the nation, the feds will cut the doctor's payments by 5 percent."
As in the Washington Times:
This provision makes no account for the results of care, its quality or even its efficiency. It just says that if a doctor authorizes expensive care, no matter how successfully, the government will punish him by scrimping on what already is a low reimbursement rate for treating Medicare patients. The incentive, therefore, is for the doctor always to provide less care for his patients for fear of having his payments docked.
And because no doctor will know who falls in the top 10 percent until year's end, or what total average costs will break the 10 percent threshold, the pressure will be intense to withhold care, and withhold care again, and then withhold it some more. Or at least to prescribe cheaper care, no matter how much less effective, in order to avoid the penalties.
No metrics on quality of care, outcomes, patient satisfaction, or other aspects of the complex process of medical care are apparently involved. Just an "aggregation of the physician's resource use."
May I use the words "capricious and arbitrary" to describe this metric?
Now, we should ask:
- Is this what our government means by "data driven healthcare?"
- Do they realize the likely adverse consequences of such half-baked measures?
- Are those who would propose such a bill friends of patients, and friends of physicians?
Where have I seen this before? (How about: biomedical dilettantes helping impair R&D at a pharmaceutical company, now in sale mode due to a poor pipeline of new drugs, through cutting drug discovery resources on the simplistic metric of "cost per user per database?")
Ultimately, this Medicare strategy is the end result of allowing medical dilettantes (no matter how well they've "self educated" themselves about medicine) to control the playing field. It is a poster example of a perverse incentive in direct conflict with the obligation of physicians to provide the best care.
In the end, patients and physicians get screwed.