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Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital to Lead the Way in Health Care Reform

August 25, 2009
KUSA TV Exempla St. Joseph Hospital to lead the way in health care reform posted by: Sara Gandy Dr. Kristin Woodward DENVER - Exempla St. Joseph Hospital has been chosen as one of five hospitals in the country that will participate in a pilot program with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The program hopes to improve patient care while saving money for Medicare. The program is called the ACE program or Acute Care Episode program. St. Joseph hospital has been chosen to enroll patients having various heart procedures. Robert Minkin, CEO of St. Joseph, says the hospital was chosen because its staff performs more than 400 heart procedures a year. They have also been rated in the top 98th percentile in the country in surgical outcomes for heart procedures. Medicare will basically bundle the fee given to both the hospital and doctors for each particular procedure. The fee will cover a patient's pre-operative visits, procedure, in-patient car, and cardiac rehabilitation. If the procedure goes as planned, the hospital, doctors and patient will profit from the service. However, if the patient has a problem and requires additional care the hospital absorbs the cost. For example, if the patient develops pneumonia the hospital will cover the costs without being reimbursed by Medicare. Minkin says patients who enroll in the program will likely not have to pay their Medicare deductible. He also says physicians at St. Joseph are excited to be part of the solution to rising health care costs. The goal of the program is that patients will improve care and decrease some of the unnecessary testing and treatments that can occur during any hospitalization. President Barack Obama is supportive of the program. "Mr. Obama has talked about the key elements of how to save health care in this country. The possibility of putting hospital fees and doctor's fees together into a single price point is one of the ways that will drive waste out of the system," Minkin said. The program will start sometime before the end of the year.