Thursday, June 23, 2011

Capitation doesn't slow health care cost growth

Early results show that putting doctors and hospitals on a budget — a payment method promoted as a way to curb health costs — has not saved money in Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley concluded in a report released yesterday. ...

In the report released yesterday, Coakley’s staff scrutinized Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ “alternative quality contract,’’ which Patrick has held up as a potential model for controlling health care costs. It gives doctors a fixed amount for each patient regardless of how much care the patient requires, and includes incentives for meeting quality measures. These types of global payment systems are supposed to encourage coordination of care and lessen unnecessary treatment because physicians are at risk if they exceed the budget — and can keep some of the extra if they come in below budget. ...

During the first year of the contract, from 2008 to 2009, Blue Cross’s payments to five physicians’ groups grew an average of 10 percent, compared with 1.7 percent for doctors not in the contract, the report said. Atrius, for example, was paid about 9 percent more in 2009 by Blue Cross than in the previous year.
--Liz Kowalczyk, Boston Globe, on yet another failed attempt to curb health care costs