Hospitals To Get More Bargaining Clout For Medical Devices
The Wall Street Journal: "Hospitals lack leverage when negotiating prices for high-cost implants like defibrillators and replacement hips because individual doctors, rather than hospitals, typically select the products they use in their patients. Since these doctors often aren't hospital employees, they have little incentive to bargain-hunt. New health rules, however, call for more testing of ways to bring doctors' financial interests more in line with those of hospitals." Currently, Medicare pays doctors and hospitals separately. But under the Acute Care Episode demonstration project, the federal program will combine payments to doctors and hospitals while also measuring patient outcomes.
"The recently passed health-care bill could broaden such testing with its 'national pilot program on payment bundling.'" The new law also creates accountable care organizations, which also are designed to "align doctor and hospital incentives, perhaps through bundled payments" (Kamp, 5/17).
Earlier, related KHN story: ACOs, A Quick Primer (Galewitz, 7/19/09)
Meanwhile, NPR reports on another medical device concern: the use of CT scanners. "In February, the makers of CT scanners pledged to do a better job protecting patients from radiation risks. And a trade group for the companies said safeguards would be added to the scanners that would warn technicians when the machines were about to exceed recommended radiation doses. The makers of the machines are now supporting a message of moderation" (Hensley, 5/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.