Essential hospitals faced larger penalties and smaller bonuses than hospitals overall in the first three years of the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program, according to a recently released report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). While GAO found that essential hospitals providing significant care to the poor were able to narrow this gap over the course of the three-year study, there were no changes in overall hospital quality performance during the program’s initial years. And, bonuses and penalties amounted to less than 0.5 percent of Medicare payments each year.
GAO interviewed select hospital officials who described certain factors not specifically linked to the implementation of the VBP Program, such as information technology, as affecting their hospital’s quality improvement efforts. GAO also acknowledged that future trends may emerge as new quality measures are added and the weight assigned to clinical process measures is reduced.
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