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Comment & Response
June 14, 2016

Medicare’s Bundled Payment Program and Health Care Utilization—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA. 2016;315(22):2471. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.3823

In Reply Dr Weeks expresses concern that without appropriate safeguards, the new bundled payment models developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will lead to increased utilization and, therefore, costs. He asserts that although bundled payment incentivizes lower spending during the episode of care, health care organizations will compensate by increasing the number of episodes of care initiated.

We agree with Weeks that patients should “get only the care that they want and need” and, as discussed in our Viewpoint, recognize the potential for unintended consequences with bundled payment models. As such, CMS incorporates a number of safeguards into the design of these models and conducts rigorous, multifaceted evaluations that examine several key areas of interest. To date, independent evaluation of the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative models 2 through 4 has not yet conclusively identified any unintended consequences. But CMS will continue to monitor carefully for any evidence of overuse, shifting, steering, or stinting in care. In addition, the design of the BPCI and the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement models allows for CMS to recoup excessive spending during the postepisode period, which could be due to shifting or delaying care.

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