Boston Children's Hospital And Insurers Agree To New Fee Plan; VA Finds Problems At Illinois Facility

Children's Hospital in Boston and insurers reach accord on a new plan to limit fee increases while funding research, and a Veterans Affairs hospital in Illinois struggles with quality problems.

The Boston Globe reports: "Children's Hospital Boston has agreed to limit increases in fees it charges the state's major health insurers next year as part of a larger push to control the rise in pediatric health care costs." The three health plans, along with the state's Medicaid program, will then "contribute a portion of their savings, about $10 million in total, to a fund that will enable Children's Hospital to accelerate pilot programs aimed at providing better care at lower costs. One program gives doctors immediate feedback on the success of treatments. Another explores ways to expand the range of services provided by primary care physicians, potentially enabling them to handle ailments like headaches and asthma without having to refer patients to specialists. A third is pioneering new payment models for pediatric care as state lawmakers consider revamping the current payment system" (Weisman, 11/4).

NPR reports that an inspector general report from the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to find problems at a VA Medical Center in Marion, Ill., two years after officials noticed a spike in the number of patient deaths there. "A 2008 investigation found that at least nine patients died because of surgical mistakes and poor post-surgical care at the VA hospital in Marion, which is in southern Illinois. That report made recommendations to improve conditions at the facility. The new report finds poor quality management oversight, inconsistencies in the way patient deaths are reported and continuing problems with ensuring patient safety — including the discovery that surgeons were performing procedures they were not authorized to handle."

Members of the Illinois congressional delegation "sent a sharply worded letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in which they demanded that VA management be held accountable for the problems at the Marion facility" (Schaper, 11/3).

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