Health reform implementation

HHS unveils patient safety partnership

HHS aims to do that by disseminating best practices that have already allowed the nation’s best hospital systems to cut preventable errors significantly. 

The administration is also making available $1 billion from the healthcare reform law to help those results. Half of that amount was made available Tuesday for community-based organizations to partner with hospitals to help patients after discharge from the hospital. Another $500 million will be made available by the new Medicare innovation center to test new models for reducing hospital-acquired conditions.

Already, more than 500 hospitals, physician and nurses groups, and consumer advocates have pledged their commitment to the initiative, according to HHS.

“We all need to do everything we can to avoid preventable patient illness and injuries while also working to ensure that patients are able to heal without complications,” said Cecil Wilson, president of the American Medical Association. “Physicians work hard every day to provide excellent care to patients. And they need the best systems in place to support them.”

One criticism of the proposal is that a public reporting requirement that was in an early draft has since been removed. But Berwick said the healthcare reform law requires such reporting and starts penalizing hospitals that don’t improve over the next few years.

“This is a voluntary effort,” Berwick told The Hill. “So gathering data, sharing data, being as public as you want to be, that’s part of this effort … But the era of what I like to call ‘enforced transparency’ is coming. This is the get-ready part where if you join this and engage in voluntary efforts in measurement and transparency you’re going to be ahead of the game downstream.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also got in a dig at House Republicans’ 2012 budget proposal. HHS estimates that about 9 percent of public and private payments will be linked to performance over the next few years, but Sebelius said transforming Medicare into a voucher-type program, as Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has proposed, would take a key driver of payment reform out of the equation.

The healthcare reform law “uses Medicare’s vast network of providers and payments to actually become a value-based purchaser in health,” Sebelius said.

“This is exactly where we’re going to improve care and actually lower costs along the way,” she said. Ryan’s proposals “do nothing to address underlying health costs and, in fact, I would say it’s a massive cost shift … to seniors” without improving care.

Tags Kathleen Sebelius Paul Ryan

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