CMS sends cost and quality reports to physicians

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent out twenty thousand “Resource Reports” to physicians in the midwest, which show the amount their patients cost on average as well as the quality of the care they provided, according to an article by Kaiser Health News and the Washington Post.

The article states that the reports, which eventually be distributed to physicians across the country, are a preliminary attempt to figure out how to pay more to doctors who provide quality care at lower cost to Medicare, and reduce payments to physicians who cost Medicare more without better results, which is part of the Value-Based Purchasing Modifier provision of the 2010 healthcare reform law. 

While experts agree that getting physicians to notice how much their services cost, they also agree that this provision of the healthcare reform law will be among the most difficult to put into place.  Doctors see fewer patients than hospitals, so making statistically accurate assessments of doctors' care and comparing that to others is much harder. In addition, calculations of how much a physician’s patients cost Medicare include not just the services of the individual doctor but of all the doctors that provided any treatment to the patient.

(Sources: Kaiser Health News, http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org, April 15, 2012; The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com, April 14, 2012)