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Senior Citizen Politics
Partnership for Patients to Improve Care, Lower Costs
Introduced by Obama Administration
Potential savings of $50 billion
for Medicare plus billions for Medicaid by improving hospital care
April 12, 2011 – The Obama administration today
announced the Partnership for Patients, a national partnership aimed at
saving $35 billion in health care costs – up to $10 billion for Medicare
– and saving 60,000 lives by stopping millions of preventable injuries
and complications in patient care over the next three years.
Over the next ten years, the Partnership for
Patients could reduce costs to Medicare by about $50 billion and result
in billions more in Medicaid savings, according to the announcement by
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
She was joined by leaders of major hospitals,
employers, health plans, physicians, nurses, and patient advocates. More
than 500 hospitals, as well as physicians and nurses groups, consumer
groups, and employers have already pledged their commitment to the new
“Americans go the hospital to get well, but
millions of patients are injured because of preventable complications
and accidents,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Working closely with
hospitals, doctors, nurses, patients, families and employers, we will
support efforts to help keep patients safe, improve care, and reduce
costs. Working together, we can help eliminate preventable harm to
To launch this initiative, HHS announced it would
invest up to $1 billion in federal funding, made available under the
Affordable Care Act. Today, $500 million of that funding was made
available through the Community-based Care Transitions Program. Up to
$500 million more will be dedicated from the Centers for Medicare &
Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center to support new demonstrations
related to reducing hospital-acquired conditions.
The funding will be invested in reforms that help
achieve two shared goals:
1. Keep hospital patients from getting
injured or sicker. By the end of 2013, preventable hospital-acquired
conditions would decrease by 40-percent compared to 2010. Achieving
this goal would mean approximately 1.8 million fewer injuries to
patients, with more than 60,000 lives saved over the next three years.
2. Help patients heal without complication. By
the end of 2013, preventable complications during a transition from one
care setting to another would be decreased so that all hospital
readmissions would be reduced by 20-percent compared to 2010. Achieving
this goal would mean more than 1.6 million patients will recover from
illness without suffering a preventable complication requiring
re-hospitalization within 30 days of discharge.
Will Focus on Nine Types of Medical Errors and
The Partnership will target all forms of harm to
patients but will start by asking hospitals to focus on nine types of
medical errors and complications where the potential for dramatic
reductions in harm rates has been demonstrated by pioneering hospitals
and systems across the country. Examples include preventing adverse
drug reactions, pressure ulcers, childbirth complications and surgical
The CMS Innovation Center will help hospitals adapt
effective, evidence-based care improvements to target preventable
patient injuries on a local level, developing innovative approaches to
spreading and sharing strategies among public and private partners in
all states. Members of the partnership will identify specific steps
they will take to reduce preventable injuries and complications in
“With new tools provided by the Affordable Care
Act, we can aggressively implement programs that will help hospitals
reduce preventable errors,” said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D.
“We will provide hospitals with incentives to improve the quality of
health care, and provide real assistance to medical professionals and
hospitals to support their efforts to reduce harm.”
Community-based Organizations Can Apply
HHS has committed $500 million to community-based
organizations partnering with eligible hospitals to help patients safely
transition between settings of care. Today, community-based
organizations and acute care hospitals that partner with community-based
organizations can begin submitting applications for this funding.
Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. Awards will be made
on an ongoing basis as funding permits.
CMS Innovation Center Targets Patient Safety
In coordination with stakeholders from across the
health care system, the CMS Innovation Center is planning to use up to
$500 million in additional funding to test different models of improving
patient care and patient engagement and collaboration in order to reduce
hospital-acquired conditions and improve care transitions nationwide.
These collaborative models will help hospitals adopt effective
interventions for improving patient safety in their facilities.
The programs announced today are just two of the
many ways the Affordable Care Act is helping improve the health care
system. Last month, HHS announced the first-ever National Quality
Strategy, which will serve as a tool to help coordinate quality
initiatives between public and private partners as well as to leverage
and coordinate existing efforts by federal agencies and departments to
improve patient care.
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to
HHS also announced new rules to help doctors,
hospitals, and other providers better coordinate care for Medicare
patients through Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). By 2015, a
portion of Medicare payments to the majority of hospitals will be linked
to whether hospitals are delivering safer care, using information
technology effectively and meeting patient needs. Payment incentives
and supports to improve quality and lower costs will also be available
to state Medicaid programs.
“No single entity can improve care for millions of
hospital patients alone,” said Berwick. “Through strong partnerships at
national, regional, state and local levels – including the public sector
and some of the nation’s largest companies – we are supporting the
hospital community to significantly reduce harm to patients.”
Consumers Union Wants Hospitals Held Accountable
The initiative represents an important effort to
make patient safety a priority and sets goals to reduce medical harm,
according to Consumers Union, the nonprofit publishers of Consumer
Reports. But the group noted that more emphasis is needed on holding
individual hospitals accountable for reducing medical harm through
mandatory public reporting of each hospital’s performance.
“We’ve known for years that millions of Americans
are unnecessarily harmed in the hospital every year from preventable
infections and other medical errors,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of
Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project (www.safepatientproject.org).
“A high-profile, coordinated, national response to
our patient safety crisis is long overdue. We are encouraged that the
Obama administration is making patient safety a national priority.
Public reporting of each hospital’s patient safety track record is the
best way to measure whether this effort is successful.”¯
Consumers Union Poll Shows High Public Concern
About Medical Errors
Consumers Union recently released the results of a
new national poll by the Consumer Reports National Research Center that
found high levels of public concern about medical errors. The poll
found that 77 percent of respondents expressed high or moderate concern
that they or someone in their family might be harmed by a hospital
infection during treatment in the hospital. Seventy-one percent
expressed high or moderate concern about being harmed by a medication
error, and 65 percent were similarly concerned about surgical errors.
Only 17 percent of respondents indicated that they
thought their doctor or other hospital staff would always inform them
when a medical error was made during treatment even though 97 percent
always wanted to be informed. Forty-seven percent said that they
expected to be informed rarely or never when medical errors occurred.
Almost Everyone Says Hospitals Should Be
Required to Report Errors
Virtually all consumers - 96 percent - said that
hospitals should be required to report medical errors to state health
departments, and 82 percent wanted each hospital’s medical error record
to be available to the public.
13.5% of Medicare Patients Experience
Infections, Harm in Hospitals
Recent research has found that hospital infections
and other medical harm are even more common than previously estimated.
A November 2010 study by the Department of Health and Human Services’
Office of the Inspector General found that one in seven Medicare
patients or 13.5 percent experienced serious or long term medical harm
(including infections) or death while they underwent treatment in the
Another 13 percent of patients experienced
temporary harm. The researchers estimated that hospital infections and
medical errors involving Medicare patients contributed to approximately
180,000 deaths and $4.4 billion in additional hospital care costs each
CDC Finds Two Million Americans Suffer Hospital
Separately, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention has found that nearly two million Americans suffer from
hospital acquired infections every year. These infections result in as
much as $45 billion in extra hospital care. Patients who develop
hospital infections and other complications often require longer stays
in the hospital or end up being readmitted for further treatments.
Almost one in five Medicare patients who are discharged from the
hospital are readmitted within 30 days.
Likewise, a November 2010 New England Journal of
Medicine study in North Carolina hospitals found that one in four
patients were harmed by the care they received, ranging from hospital
acquired infections, surgical errors, and medication dosage mistakes.
Other medical errors include serious bed sores,
patient falls in the hospital from inattentive care, and diagnostic
mistakes. The study, which covered a six-year period, found no
significant improvement in patient safety.
Health Affairs Finds 90% of Hospital Mistakes
Another report issued by Health Affairs last week
indicated that as many as 90 percent of hospital mistakes were
overlooked. Under the national initiative, hospitals participating in
Medicare and Medicaid programs will be required to meet certain patient
safety standards and efforts to reduce patient harm will be emphasized
in the certification process.
The Partnership for Patients seeks to reduce
hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent by the end of 2013 compared
to 2010. It aims to reduce preventable complications so that all
hospital readmissions are reduced by 20 percent by the end of 2013
compared to 2010.
Under the Partnership, the federal government will
provide resources to encourage hospitals to implement strategies to
improve patient safety and partner with the private sector on using
incentives to enhance the quality and safety of care.
News Reports on Partnership for Patients
ABC News: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
today announced a national program to help save 63,000 lives and up to
$35 billion in health care costs over the next three years by preventing
hospital-related injuries. ... Sebelius said under the Partnership for
Patients, HHS would invest up to $1 billion in federal funding through
the Affordable Care Act." The partnership's two main goals are "[t]o
reduce preventable injuries by 40 percent; and cut preventable hospital
readmissions by 20 percent" (Moisse, 4/12).
Modern Healthcare: The "$1 billion collaborative patient-safety
initiative [is] focused on reducing preventable harm and easing
transitions of care. ... 'With new tools provided by the Affordable Care
Act, we can aggressively implement programs that will help hospitals
reduce preventable errors,' CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick said in
a news release. 'We will provide hospitals with incentives to improve
the quality of healthcare, and provide real assistance to medical
professionals and hospitals to support their efforts to reduce harm'"
Fox News: "HHS says more than 500 hospitals have already signed on
to be a part of the partnership that focuses on teamwork instead of
blame to cut down on medical mistakes and make patient care safer.
Advocates say Medicare will be a key to the partnership's success. ...
But the plan's parameters could be in jeopardy going forward. House
Republicans have introduced a 2012 budget that would, in essence, end
Medicare, and earlier this year, voted to repeal the Affordable Care
Act. And critics of the plan suggest the federal government shouldn't
get into a free-market issue when the hasn't been a free-market failure"
The Hill: "More than half of Americans believe the quality of U.S.
healthcare is average at best, a new poll finds. Fifty-fifty percent
gave healthcare quality a C or D grade on a typical report card scale,
and 11 percent said the system completely flunks out, according to a
survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. ... The Tuesday morning
report comes out as the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled
a new patient safety initiative that seeks to improve healthcare quality
while producing up to $50 billion in Medicare savings" (Millman, 4/12).
information is reprinted from
kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J.
Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser
Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up
for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All
For more information about
the Partnership for Patients, visit
www.HealthCare.gov/center/programs/partnership. For a fact sheet on
today’s announcement, visit
more information about the Community-based Care Transitions Program
funding opportunity, visit
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