In 2010 Maryland replaced fee-for-service payment for some rural hospitals with “global budgets” for hospital-provided services called Total Patient Revenue (TPR).
A principal goal was to incentivize hospitals to manage resources efficiently. Using a difference-in-differences design, we compared eight TPR hospitals to seven similar non-TPR Maryland hospitals to estimate how TPR affected hospital-provided services. We also compared health care use by “treated” patients in TPR counties to that of patients in counties containing control hospitals.
Inpatient admissions and outpatient services fell sharply at TPR hospitals, increasingly so over the period that TPR was in effect.
Emergency department (ED) admission rates declined 12 percent, direct (non-ED) admissions fell 23 percent, ambulatory surgery center visits fell 45 percent, and outpatient clinic visits and services fell 40 percent.
However, for residents of TPR counties, visits to all Maryland hospitals fell by lesser amounts and Medicare spending increased, which suggests that some care moved outside of the global budget.
Nonetheless, we could not assess the efficiency of these shifts with our data, and some care could have moved to more efficient locations. Our evidence suggests that capitation models require strong oversight to ensure that hospitals do not respond by shifting costs to other providers.