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May/June 2012

Feature Story
In Search of Satisfaction

Unions and hospitals should work together to improve patients' experiences

WHEN IT COMES TO healthcare in the United States, Americans typically pay for quantity, not quality. Our healthcare system is a fee-for-service payment model that creates incentives for lots of tests and procedures that don’t always result in the best care. This focus on volume rather than on wellness serves only to increase the cost of care, which is why the United States has the most expensive health system in the world. Controlling the cost of healthcare was a top priority in crafting the Affordable Care Act.

The health reform law includes provisions that encourage cost shifting by giving incentives to providers for their quality of care. Hospitals will be scored on their ability to follow appropriate processes, to produce certain outcomes and to achieve a certain level of patient satisfaction. High scores will bring rewards and low scores, penalties.

Patient satisfaction is of particular concern for hospitals because starting in October, Medicare will withhold 1 percent of each hospital’s payment for goods and services, but the hospitals will have a chance to “earn that money back” based on their overall quality score; patient satisfaction will constitute 30 percent of the overall score.Hospitals fought to get the weight of the score reduced to 20 percent but were unsuccessful.


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Healthwire covers news and information relevant to the nurses and health professionals represented by AFT Healthcare. It is published five times a year and is mailed to all healthcare members of the AFT as a benefit of membership. Single copies are free on request. Questions, comments and inquiries about Healthwire should be sent to its managing editor Adrienne Coles.  
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