Washington, D.C. – The Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) commended the new payment for quality demonstration announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, and challenged the House-Senate conference committee on Medicare reform to build on this innovative approach in the final legislation that it is developing.
“ACHP’s highest policy priority is for Medicare to incorporate incentives for quality into its standards and payments,” noted Jack Ebeler, President and CEO of ACHP. “Secretary Thompson and CMS Administrator Tom Scully have pointed the way to that future with quality measures and now a test of payment for performance with the Premiere, Inc. network of hospitals. The House-Senate conference committee on Medicare reform should take up a comparable challenge and build quality incentives into the final conference agreement.”
The Medicare Payment Assessment Commission’s (MedPAC) June, 2003 report supported the need for Medicare to move toward incentives for quality, and cited an ACHP approach to short-term quality incentives as an example of a starting point (www.medpac.gov). That approach was reflected in Rep. Jennifer Dunn’s (R-WA) legislation (H.R. 2033) introduced in May. Her bill establishes a two-year program of payment incentives for Medicare+Choice plans performing at the highest levels on current quality and consumer satisfaction measures, and authorizes a study by the Institute of Medicine to recommend improved measures and incentives for quality performance in all of Medicare for the future. Information on the legislation is available at ACHP’s website, www.achp.org.
“Rep. Dunn’s leadership sets a policy framework for the conference committee and future steps in this area,” noted Ebeler. “Her proposed IOM study is included in both the House and Senate bills, and should be part of the final conference agreement. Her two-year program of incentives for the best-performing Medicare+Choice plans serves as a model for additional action.”