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Medicare Pays Bonuses To 231 Hospitals With Lower Quality Because Of Cheaper Costs
California Healthline

The federal government paid bonuses to 231 hospitals with subpar quality because their patients tend to be less expensive for Medicare, new research shows.

The bonuses are small, generally a fraction of a percent of their Medicare payments. Nonetheless, rewarding hospitals of mediocre quality was hardly the stated goal when the Affordable Care Act created financial incentives to encourage better medical care from hospitals, doctors and other health care providers.

A study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs looked at the more than $1 billion in payments made last year in the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program, which raises or lowers Medicare payments to hospitals based on the government’s assessment of their quality. Medicare primarily uses death and infection rates and patient surveys to judge hospitals, but it also evaluates how much each hospitals’ patients cost, both in treatment and recovery.