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Medicare Tests New Payment System for Joint Replacements

Focus will be on quality of care and cost cutting; hospitals on board but orthopedic surgeons are wary

surgeon with scalpel

FRIDAY, April 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A new way of paying for hip and knee replacements is being tested by Medicare with the goal of improving quality and cutting costs.

Patients will be monitored more closely in order to improve their recovery and prevent expensive complications, the Associated Press reported.

The new program will be launched April 1 in 67 metro areas nationwide that have millions of beneficiaries and about 800 hospitals. It will use financial rewards and penalties to promote coordination among doctors, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers.

Hospitals are supportive but orthopedic surgeons have some concerns about the initiative, which has the interest of consumer groups, the AP reported. "The overall goal is a good one -- they want to see where you can cut the waste out," said Alexandra Page, M.D., a San Diego clinician representing the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, according to the AP. But "one of the unintended consequences is going to be cherry-picking…hospitals are only going to want to have the patients who are going to do well."

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