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U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Under the leadership of then-Secretary Tom Price, the Department of Health and Human Services substantially rolled back mandatory pilot programs. But Price isn’t the boss any more, and mandatory demonstration programs are back.

How it works: HHS is on a perpetual quest to change the way Medicare pays for care. One leading part of that effort involves bundling together the many individual payments Medicare would normally make for a one procedure.

  • Because that model hasn’t been perfected yet, and because the whole idea here is to save Medicare money — which means paying out less in reimbursements — it’s not always easy to get doctors on board voluntarily.

“Real experimentation ... requires a willingness to try mandatory models. We know they are the most effective way to know whether these bundles can successfully save money and improve quality,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday.

  • “We need results, American patients need change, and when we need mandatory models to deliver it, mandatory models are going to see a comeback,” he said.

The bottom line: Providers won’t be happy. But people who want to reform the delivery system will be.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  3. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators seeks stimulus dealChuck Grassley returns to Senate after recovering from COVID-19.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. Economy: Wall Street wonders how bad economy has to get for Congress to act.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.
2 hours ago - Health

First blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer's goes public

Photo: Jerry Naunheim Jr./C2N Diagnostics via AP

A non-COVID medical breakthrough: People over 60 now have access to a blood test for Alzheimer's disease.

Why it matters: The existing PET brain scan test costs some people about $5,000 and often isn't covered by insurance, AP reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Wisconsin, Arizona certify Biden's victories

Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Arizona and Wisconsin officials confirmed the presidential election results in their states, formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victories in the key battlegrounds.

Why it matters: The moves deal yet another blow to President Trump's efforts to block or delay certification in key swing states that he lost.