The physician payment change, inked by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), would allow doctors to capture bonus payments for reaching a series of performance measures meant to streamline care throughout a practice group.
The idea is a version of a value-based index model, where doctors are rewarded for tamping down padded or wasteful procedures.
Under the terms accepted by the Senate Finance Committee, physician or physician groups would be eligible for a bonus payment based on the relative quality of care they achieve while treating seniors.
Meantime, two Democratic senators are eying ways to ease some of the billions of dollars in cuts aimed at home health agencies.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) offered an amendment that would rebase home health payments so that reimbursements are reduced by no more than 3% over a year, rather than 3.5% that the bill now calls for.
All told, it would give back about $5 billion of the scheduled $43 billion in cuts over a 10-year period. Committee members said they would discuss the proposal over the next several days.
The committee also approved a measure, offered by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), that would allow rural, intensive care units to participate in care coordination programs offered by a newly-created CMS Innovation Center.
Conrad said that the care coordination model ultimately “reduces costs, saves lives and improves outcomes.”
The amendments came during a historic first day of Senate health reform negotiations.
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