ACA Turns Two; Has it Improved Quality of Care?

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , March 22, 2012

For example, the PPACA calls for penalties for hospitals with higher rates of hospital-acquired conditions. And though CMS has not proposed those rules as of yet, "people know that HAC payment reductions are coming, and so once again, although the performance period and payment adjustments haven't started I can tell you that hospitals are incredibly focused on reducing their HAC rates now to avoid future payment reductions."

Additionally, the PPACA has enabled numerous other tools to help individual hospitals improve care, such as the $1 billion the feds get to spend for efforts like Partnership for Patients.

But, I asked, does Conway think his mother would receive better and safer care in a hospital today than before the ACA passed?

"Yes," he replies. "Where you have focus and measurement, there's improvement." And, he adds, "my mother is a Medicare beneficiary, so it is a personal question that I think about a lot."

It has been two years since President Obama signed the landmark ACA legislation. Next week it faces its toughest test as its legitimacy is argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. As one policy institute quipped Tuesday "The Affordable Care Act Turns 2...Will It Turn 3?"

So my birthday wish for ACA is that in coming weeks and months, government agencies and provider collaboratives will be much more transparent and forthcoming to answer these questions about PPACA's impact on quality. And in so doing, ACA and the patients affected by it will all grow older, wiser, and of course much, much healthier.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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