The fact that this story is put out as if it were rational information about a topic shows you how deeply the American media is committed to Big Government and would rather believe politicians than use their brains. USA Today’s sub-headline says it all:
One thing about the Affordable Care Act is clear: Hospitals will exist in a world where they are rewarded more for the quality of care than for the volume of patients they treat.
How is anyone going to be able to measure and price “quality”? The only thing that is “clear” here is that hospitals have no idea how or why they will be rewarded. This is basic to all rules of policy: if the outcome can’t be quantified then the outcome cannot be predictably attained.
My guess is that hospitals will start hiring politically connected CEOs who can get favors from the healthcare bureaucracy.
Here’s the context:
Today, hospitals across the country must transform to survive.
It may seem obvious, but hospitals remain major hubs of American health care. More than 35.1 million people were discharged from inpatient care at non-federal hospitals in 2010, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were more than 100 million outpatient department visits and almost 130 million visits to emergency departments in this country.
No one can say exactly how the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” will affect hospitals.
Should the act help more people access insurance, hospitals could get paid for charity care that they now provide for free to uninsured patients.
However, the ACA also could flood hospitals with new, high-use patients, which could tax already overburdened physicians and hospital staff. In addition, hospitals also could receive less money for the same services in the short term: The government has outlined plans to cut reimbursement rates for patients on Medicare.
Hospital administrators and employees are worried, with good reason.
Amid the uncertainty in the industry, one thread remains clear: Hospitals will, in the future, exist in a world where they are rewarded more for the quality of care than for the volume of patients they treat. As this transition occurs, hospitals must live in two worlds — one where they still earn money per procedure and another that views the treatment of patients in a more holistic way, with successful outcomes the most important measure of a hospital’s performance.
So hospitals “must transform,” but no one is sure how Obamacare “will affect hospitals.” There are hundreds of millions of patients, but hospitals will not be rewarded for how many patients they serve.
If hospitals are only rewarded for successful outcomes, then they are going to find ways to turn more serious patients away. They will only want to treat patients who have a favorable chance of responding to treatment. Dr. House will finally be fired.
People act like the government is so competent and careful. But this whole “system” is being made up as they go. Remember, the Affordable Care Act is not even a real law: it is more like a commission to the bowels of the Health and Human Services bureaucracy to defecate pounds of pages of new regulations every year. So while the Obamacare law is the size of a telephone book, the regulations that have already been written are at least the size of a stack of telephone books piled eight feet high.
Yet USA Today tries to get us to accept this.