Bundled payments saved $120 million for Medicare, 'here to stay' despite delays

Bundled payments helped save $120 million for the Medicare Trust Fund in 2017, the data shows.
Bundled payments helped save $120 million for the Medicare Trust Fund in 2017, the data shows.

Editors' Note: This story has been updated to clarify the data from Remedy Partners.

Recent news of the delay of a bundled payment final rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may be “misleading” regarding the viability of the program, according to data released on Wednesday.

In an interim rule published Monday, CMS announced it was pushing back the start date of  previously announced cardiac and orthopedic care models, as well as updates to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement program, from July 1 to Oct. 1, 2017 in order to “allow time for additional review.”

But new data from software company Remedy Partners indicates the CMS' Bundled Payments for Care Improvements models implemented through the company helped save 7.7% of episode-of-care costs. That money translated into more than $120 million in savings for the Medicare Trust Fund in 2017 alone, Remedy said.

While Remedy's data showed sizable savings for CMS, it's less clear how much providers directly benefited from bundled payments.The positive results bode well for bundled payments despite the delays of some mandatory models, said Remedy Partners CEO Carolyn Magill.

“As we move to more value-based care models that encourage efficiency and improvements in care quality, bundled payments will continue to play a central role," Magill said. “Some headlines this week were misleading; the rule that was delayed yesterday was just for one mandatory program and not the larger universe of bundled payment models. Bundled payments are here to stay."

Magill also speculated that yesterday's delay could signify that more mandatory CMS programs could become voluntary in order to engage more providers and increase likelihood of positive outcomes.