SNFs embrace bundled pay

Many healthcare providers are willing to accept bundled payments from Medicare well before it's mandated, according to new data from research firm Avalere Health. 

Its recent evaluation indicates that about 7% of skilled nursing facilities are voluntarily assuming financial risk by participating in “Phase 2” of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Initiative. An estimated 1,350 providers entered the second phase of the initiative by the July 1 deadline imposed by CMS; of that number, 896 — or approximately two-thirds — were SNFs. 

The initiative tests healthcare providers' ability to save money by bundling payments for certain conditions. During Phase 2, providers accept financial risk and must cover extra charges if a patient's treatment costs more than a pre-determined amount. 

Most providers agreeing to the bundled payment initiative are assuming risk for Medicare patients with orthopedic, pulmonary or vascular conditions, according to the analysis.

“Provider acceptance of risk is starting to transform clinical care at the provider level,” said Avalere CEO Dan Mendelson. “The focus on orthopedics and cardiovascular care in particular shows that this program is likely to generate lasting effects on quality and cost for Medicare beneficiaries.”