Obama plan for health care quality dealt a setback

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's main idea for getting quality health care at less cost was in jeopardy Wednesday after key medical providers called his administration's initial blueprint so complex it's unworkable.

Just over a month ago, the administration released long-awaited draft regulations for "accountable care organizations," networks of doctors and hospitals that would collaborate to keep Medicare patients healthier and share in the savings with taxpayers. Obama's health care overhaul law envisioned quickly setting up hundreds of such networks around the county to lead a bottom-up reform of America's bloated health care system.

But in an unusual rebuke, an umbrella group representing premier organizations such as the Mayo Clinic wrote the administration saying more than 90 percent of its members would not participate, because the rules as written are so onerous it would be nearly impossible for them to succeed.

"It's not just a simple tweak, it's a significant change that needs to be made," said Donald Fisher, president of the American Medical Group Association, which represents nearly 400 large medical groups providing care for roughly 1 in 3 Americans. Its members had been seen as the vanguard for accountable care.

The medical groups say they are worried they will be left holding the bag for losses, that the government has designed things so there is no easy way to tell which patients are part of the program, and that there's no reliable way to adjust for patients who are sicker and require closer follow up and more expensive treatments.

Boehner chastised for budget

More than 75 professors at Catholic University of America in Washington, where John Boehner is scheduled to give the commencement address Saturday, and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to the House Speaker, a Roman Catholic, saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House will hurt the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable and that he therefore has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teachings.

Obama plan for health care quality dealt a setback 05/12/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2011 12:00am]

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