Medicare’s value-based purchasing program may not be having much of an impact on the quality of care hospitals provide, according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

According to a GAO summary of its report Hospital Value-Based Purchasing: Initial Results Show Modest Effects on Medicare Payments and No Apparent Change in Quality-of-Care Trends,

GAO’s analysis found no apparent shift in existing trends in hospitals’ performance on the quality measures included in the HVBP [note: hospital value-based purchasing] program during the program’s initial years.

gaoThe agency did note, however, that

…shifts in quality trends could emerge in the future as the HVBP program continues to evolve.

The study also evaluated how safety-net hospitals fare under the program.

GAO found that safety net hospitals, which provide a significant amount of care to the poor, consistently had lower median payment adjustments – that is, smaller bonuses or larger penalties – than hospitals overall in the program’s first three years. However, this gap narrowed over time.

For a closer look at the GAO study and what it means, see this Kaiser Health News report. Find the study itself here, on the GAO web site.