Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said he would continue an aggressive push in 2008 to improve quality and compliance measures in the Medicare program.
The hope is Congress will seriously consider the report the agency submitted several months ago on hospital value-based purchasing, Weems said. Under such a program a percentage of the hospitals base operating payment for each discharge or DRG payment would be contingent on the hospitals actual performance on a specific set of measures. The program would build on the current hospital quality-reporting program begun in 2005. It would need congressional approval to be enacted.
Even if such a system isnt put into place, Weems said the agency might go ahead on its own and establish a value-based purchasing model that would illustrate to hospitals what they would theoretically get paid if such a program were established.
Weems said he expected to testify before Congress next year on the value-based purchasing report. In the meantime, the plan is to pilot test the value-based purchasing concept in nursing homes in the spring, he added.
Weems also said the agency would continue its state-by-state expansion of the Recovery Audit Contractor program, where Medicare claims are reviewed to identify improper payments to hospitals, and work with Congress on the physician fee-schedule fix.
When asked if he was ever going to be officially confirmed by Congress as the agencys administrator, Weems said he remained hopeful. No specific item has been brought to my attention on why I havent been confirmed. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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