For this week's Union Healthcare Insight Slide of the Week, I delve into politics. As most of you know, we at Union are aggressively non-partisan, so I'm not veering into advocacy here. But it's worth looking at the strange state of value-based care.
As I've argued before, bipartisan ideas often have the least likelihood of becoming consequential law because they can always be stymied or hijacked by more partisan interests. VBC is such a concept that manages to be both bipartisan and politically homeless. While its advocates on the right tend to prioritize savings, and its boosters on the left focus on quality improvement, what we often end up with—from a policy perspective—are modest efforts to boost modest gains for both (often successfully), but rarely have a major impact on either (fight me on this; I'm ready for your arguments on readmissions). And the net result is a series of policies that may generate some real benefits, but usually add costs in under-publicized ways.
Does this mean we're bearish on value-based care? Certainly not. But as I've argued recently, VBC, in a practical sense, is likely to be much more effectively deployed to sustain existing business models, rather than to upend them. Exactly how that will work is a big focus of our upcoming State of Healthcare 2024. But a preview can be found in our recent Board Briefing on things to watch in health policy this year. Message me if you'd like to take a look through that slide deck, register for the Board Briefing series (it's open to the public; members can watch it on-demand), or have us bring the State of Healthcare to your own executive/board retreat.