2012
 
IMPROVING QUALITY AND LOWERING COSTS
 
  • Linking Payment to Quality Outcomes. The law establishes a hospital Value-Based Purchasing program (VBP) in Traditional Medicare. This program offers financial incentives to hospitals to improve the quality of care. Hospital performance is required to be publicly reported, beginning with measures relating to heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, health-care associated infections, and patients’ perception of care. Effective for payments for discharges occurring on or after October 1, 2012.
 
  • Encouraging Integrated Health Systems. The new law provides incentives for physicians to join together to form “Accountable Care Organizations.” These groups allow doctors to better coordinate patient care and improve the quality, help prevent disease and illness and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. If Accountable Care Organizations provide high quality care and reduce costs to the health care system, they can keep some of the money that they have helped save. Effective January 1, 2012.
 
  • Reducing Paperwork and Administrative Costs. Health care remains one of the few industries that relies on paper records. The new law will institute a series of changes to standardize billing and requires health plans to begin adopting and implementing rules for the secure, confidential, electronic exchange of health information. First regulation effective October 1, 2012. 
 
  • Understanding and Fighting Health Disparities. To help understand and reduce persistent health disparities, the law requires any ongoing or new federal health program to collect and report racial, ethnic and language data to The Secretary of Health and Human Services. Effective March 2012.
 
INCREASING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE CARE
 
  • Providing New, Voluntary Options for Long-Term Care Insurance. The law creates a voluntary long-term care insurance program – called CLASS -- to provide cash benefits to adults who become disabled.  (Editor's Note: On October 14, 2011, Secretary Sebelius transmitted a report and letter to Congress stating that the Department does not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.)

 

Affordable Care Act Timeline