A recent change in the way Medicare pays for joint replacements is saving millions of dollars annually — and could save billions — without affecting patient care, a new study from University of Pennsylvania researchers has found. But the man Donald Trump has picked to be the secretary of Health and Human Services has vocally opposed the new mandatory payment program and is likely to revoke it.
Under the new program, Medicare effectively agrees to pay hospitals a set fee — a bundled payment — for all care related to hip or knee replacement surgery, from the time of the surgery until 90 days after. Traditionally, hospitals collect payments for many components of care and rehabilitation individually.
Tom Price, the president-elect’s HHS nominee, a U.S. representative from Georgia and an orthopedic surgeon, has actively opposed the idea of mandating bundled payments for these orthopedic operations, calling it “experimenting with Americans’ health” in a letter to the Medicare agency just last September. In addition, the agency that designed and implemented the experiment, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, was created by the Affordable Care Act to devise new methods for encouraging cost-effective care. It will disappear if the act is repealed, as President-elect Trump has promised to do.