The Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HAC) Reduction Program: Using Cranberry Treatment to Reduce Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections and Avoid Medicare Payment Reduction Penalties.
OBJECTIVE: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) established the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established a total HAC scoring methodology to rank hospitals based upon their HAC performance. Hospitals that rank in the lowest quartile based on their HAC score are subject to a 1% reduction in their total Medicare reimbursements. In FY 2017, 769 hospitals incurred payment reductions totaling $430 million. This study analyzes how improvements in the rate of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), based on the implementation of a cranberry-treatment regimen, impact hospitals' HAC scores and likelihood of avoiding the Medicare-reimbursement penalty. METHODS: A simulation model is developed and implemented using public data from the CMS' Hospital Compare website to determine how hospitals' unilateral and simultaneous adoption of cranberry to improve CAUTI outcomes can affect HAC scores and the likelihood of a hospital incurring the Medicare payment reduction, given results on cranberry effectiveness in preventing CAUTI based on scientific trials. The simulation framework can be adapted to consider other initiatives to improve hospitals' HAC scores. RESULTS: Nearly all simulated hospitals improved their overall HAC score by adopting cranberry as a CAUTI preventative, assuming mean effectiveness from scientific trials. Many hospitals with HAC scores in the lowest quartile of the HAC-score distribution and subject to Medicare reimbursement reductions can improve their scores sufficiently through adopting a cranberry-treatment regimen to avoid payment reduction. LIMITATIONS: The study was unable to replicate exactly the data used by CMS to establish HAC scores for FY 2018. The study assumes that hospitals subject to the Medicare payment reduction were not using cranberry as a prophylactic treatment for their catheterized patients, but is unable to confirm that this is true in all cases. The study also assumes that hospitalized catheter patients would be able to consume cranberry in either juice or capsule form, but this may not be true in 100% of cases. CONCLUSION: Most hospitals can improve their HAC scores and many can avoid Medicare reimbursement reductions if they are able to attain a percentage reduction in CAUTI comparable to that documented for cranberry-treatment regimes in the existing literature.