Down But Not Out

Wham! The first healthcare reform numbers are out.

White House budget documents released February 26 outline the creation of a reserve fund of $633.8 billion over ten years to fund healthcare reform. And hospitals will take a hit.
The reserve fund would be established through savings generated from new policies, including bundling Medicare payments for hospitalizations and post-acute care ($17.8 billion), reducing payments when Medicare readmission rates exceed goals ($8.4 billion) and allocating payment based on meeting inpatient quality standards ($12.1 billion). 
In response, the AHA applauded action on reform, pledged cooperation and expressed concern "about any cuts that would affect the work hospitals do for their communities during this economic downturn."
The stock market had a less cordial response. 
On February 26, the HMO index of 11 major healthcare providers declined 10 percent. Major downers were Humana at 19 percent, UnitedHealth Group at 13 percent and Health Net at 9.4 percent. That was on top of heavy losses already sustained earlier in the week.
President Obama's budget document was entitled "A New Era of Responsibility." In the battle for healthcare reform, that means we'll all have to take it on the chin.
—Tom DeSanto
Sources: LA Times, Dow Jones newswire. Image: Google Images 

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