PHYSICIAN INCENTIVES: HHS Vows Crackdown on Gainsharing
HHS Inspector General June Gibbs Brown is warning hospitals to avoid practices that reward physicians for trimming services to Medicare or Medicaid patients, the Wall Street Journal reports. Having received several recent inquiries about hospitals' "gainsharing" practices, the inspector general's office issued a special bulletin yesterday warning against such practices, under which physicians receive a cut of hospitals' savings when they make treatment decisions that trim costs (7/9). While hospitals are encouraged to work together to reduce unnecessary costs, hospitals are prohibited from passing on a share of hospital-based cost savings, the bulletin said. "Without adequate safeguards, gainsharing could pose a risk of abuse, could adversely affect patient care and could be manipulated to reward physicians for patient referrals," Gibbs Brown said (HHS release, 7/8). An HHS spokesperson urged hospitals to heed the warning, adding, "We would hope they would unravel whatever arrangements they have along those lines and come into compliance so we don't have to take enforcement action" (Journal, 7/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.