The CMS approved a three-year extension of the Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration, which allows the more than 250 hospitals that participate in the program to recoup incentive payments for providing high-quality care.
The extension will test two new models: one for hospitals that achieve a defined level of care and another for those that show the most improvement. Quality measures include those for pneumonia, heart bypass, heart attack, heart failure and hip and knee replacement and could potentially include new mortality and patient-safety measures as well.
The program released second-year results in January showing that among participating hospitals, overall quality increased by 11.8%, a number that translates to better care for more than 800,000 patients. During the programs second year, the CMS awarded incentive payments of $8.7 million to the 115 top-performing hospitals.
The American Hospital Association has taken issue with the Premier approach. In a January letter to the CMS, the AHA warned against pay-for-performance programs that have resulted in payment penalties, inequities and other serious consequences that have adversely affected hospitals and the patients they serve.
While the association said pay-for-performance initiatives hold merit, a program that rewards only the highest-performers could lead to a tiered system that eventually penalizes lower-performing hospitals. -- by Matthew DoBias