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Consumers and health industry leaders alike are biting their nails in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, which will come sometime next week. No one can guess what the decision will bring. Will the court uphold the entire law? Will the whole thing be struck down, or only certain parts of it – causing everyone scrambling to see what is still in effect?
Up in the air are patient safety measures established by the ACA. The Partnership for Patients was established in April 2011 to reduce hospital-acquired infections by 40% and readmissions reduced by 20%, both by the end of 2013. Twenty-six hospital organizations were awarded $218 million to become Hospital Engagement Networks and identify practices to reduce infections and spread the word to other hospitals. Community-based Care Transitions Program was established by the ACA to reduce readmissions of Medicare patients and improve transition of care from hospitals to other settings. The Hospital Value-based Purchasing Program – a pay-for-performance program that would reward hospitals for quality improvements – is set to go into effect in October. There are also a slew of incentive programs for forming accountable care organizations, adoption electronic medical records, and voluntarily reporting quality data to CMS.
While there is some private money behind programs – the Partnership for Patients receives private as well as public funding – it may not be enough to sustain if the law is struck down. The fate of the programs right now is anyone’s guess.