Asked if the CMS penalty for a hospital-acquired infection should be higher, Jha replied, "My personal opinion, not speaking for our group, is that these incentives are very weak, with very small amounts of money on the table.
And I do think we could make the incentives more stringent. For example, CMS could say 'we won't pay for that hospitalization at all."
"The hospital would comp the whole service. If CMS really wanted to shake things up, that would be one potential way," Jha added.
The bottom line, Jha says, "is that we should try things that I think are a little bit bolder and more substantial to see if they work or not. It clearly should be part of the agenda."
The Harvard report, prepared with researchers from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Boston Children's Hospital, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, validates a 2009 study in the journal Health Affairs by researchers at UC San Francisco. That study predicted a negligible impact on hospital payments for care.