St. Luke's Health System has filed an application that could make it the first organization in Idaho to join a program that offers financial rewards for providing Medicare patients high-quality care at a lower cost.
The 2010 health care reform law created an accountable care organization model that lays the groundwork for a system like St. Lukes to join a program giving doctors and hospitals a share of Medicare savings. The providers must work together to meet nearly three dozen goals for:
Appropriate use of preventive care services.
Improved care for at-risk populations.
Federal officials hope the program will save $940 million over four years. More than 150 organizations in the U.S. were participating as of July. None were in Idaho.
Saint Alphonsus Health System has not applied for the program. Its parent company, Trinity Health, is taking a wait-and-see approach, said Saint Alphonsus Chief Financial Officer Blaine Petersen.
Thats because of uncertainties including how organizations will be paid and which Medicare patients will be assigned to the ACOs, he said. We decided we didnt want to be on the bleeding edge, Petersen said.
St. Lukes took the first step last spring, registering with the state to become an accountable-care organization called St. Lukes Clinic Coordinated Care Ltd.
On Sept. 5, a day before the deadline, St. Lukes filed an application to take part in the federal rewards program. The application was more than 100 pages long and described how the health system coordinates patient care, engages Medicare beneficiaries, uses evidence-based medicine and collects and uses data, and how it would use the money saved, among other things.
Dozens of people across the entire organization were involved, from (Dr. David Pate, president and chief executive officer) on down to line employees, said Ken Dey, spokesman for St. Lukes.
St. Lukes doesnt think it will reap significant financial benefits through the program, but thinks it is a step toward improved care, he said.
St. Lukes leaders believe ACOs and the (Medicare Shared Savings Program) are among the solutions needed to fix a broken health care delivery system, and is leveraging these structures to deliver better health, better care, and lower cost, Dey said. These are tools in our toolkit.
If approved, St. Lukes will start participating in the financial incentive program in January.
Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey