How Will Provider-Focused Payment Reform Impact Geographic Variation in Medicare Spending?

Published in: American Journal of Managed Care, v. 21, no. 6, July 2015, p. e390-e398

Posted on RAND.org on January 28, 2016

by David I. Auerbach, Ateev Mehrotra, Peter S. Hussey, Peter J. Huckfeldt, Abby Alpert, Christopher Lau, Victoria Shier

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OBJECTIVES: The Institute of Medicine has recently argued against a value index as a mechanism to address geographic variation in spending and instead promoted payment reform targeted at individual providers. It is unknown whether such provider-focused payment reform reduces geographic variation in spending. STUDY DESIGN: We estimated the potential impact of 3 Medicare provider-focused payment policies--pay-for-performance, bundled payment, and accountable care organizations--on geographic variation in Medicare spending across Hospital Referral Regions (HRRs). We compared geographic variation in spending, measured using the coefficient of variation (CV) across HRRs, between the baseline case and a simulation of each of the 3 policies. METHODS: Policy simulation based on 2008 national Medicare data combined with other publicly available data. RESULTS: Compared with the baseline (CV, 0.171), neither pay-for performance nor accountable care organizations would change geographic variation in spending (CV, 0.171), while bundled payment would modestly reduce geographic variation (CV, 0.165). CONCLUSIONS: In our models, the bundled payment for inpatient and post acute care services in Medicare would modestly reduce geographic variation in spending, but neither accountable care organizations nor pay-for-performance appear to have an impact.

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