This is from Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News:
In a surprising move, the Obama administration will extend special bonus payments meant to reward top-performing Medicare Advantage insurers to those that score only average ratings…. The change means 62 percent of all Medicare Advantage insurers — representing 84 percent of enrollees — will qualify for the quality bonuses, compared with only 14 percent of plans under the health law provisions….The total cost over the three years is $1.3 billion.
“It’s only been eight days since the election,” [Barclays Capital analyst] Joshua Raskin, wrote in his report, “but the rollback of Medicare Advantage cuts got its first step forward.”
This is Brad DeLong:
There are several things not to like about this. First, high quality won’t be achieved by paying for mediocrity. Second, the cuts to MA were part of the funding for expansion of health insurance. That they’re unraveling is both a cost issue and a political one. Opponents of the ACA said that the assumed savings from Medicare is not believable. Congress or CMS always gives it away…. Even if this only gives back a tiny fraction of the savings expected from Medicare, it just looks bad and gives critics of the health reform law ammunition. Third, it’s just another piece of evidence that administrative pricing doesn’t work. Give administrators the authority to fiddle with payments and they’re too heavily influenced by those getting paid. This has been a problem in Medicare for decades….
When will we get serious about this stuff? It really matters and we’re blowing it!