Mandatory bundled pay models likely still on chopping block despite Price departure

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The Department of Health and Human Services efforts' to roll back mandatory bundled payment models aren't likely to lose any steam, despite the fact that Tom Price, M.D., an outspoken opponent of the models, is no longer at the helm of the agency.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in August that it would be pulling the plug on some of its recently released bundled payment models, as well as cutting back on the number of mandatory geographic participation areas for the current joint replacement model. Price, who resigned last month following scrutiny of his private jet use, had criticized mandatory payment models during his time as a lawmaker.

“Regardless of who becomes Health and Human Services Secretary, I don't see any drastic change for the canceled bundles,” John Feore, a director at Avalere, told Bloomberg BNA on Monday. “I'm sure the cancellation was at Tom Price's direction, but his resignation is unlikely to change anything.”

Mark Reagan, managing partner in the healthcare law firm Hooper, Lundy & Bookman PC, also told Bloomberg that Price' replacement likely will hold course.

“Whoever is chosen will likely have the same position regarding the bundles,” Reagan said.

Candidates to be Price's full-time replacement include CMS Administrator Seema Verma, as well as VA Secretary David Shulkin, who reportedly has already been interviewed for the position by the White House.