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Molly Riley / AP

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would cancel some mandatory bundled payments, which are experiments where hospitals and doctors are paid fixed amounts for certain surgeries and procedures. The Affordable Care Act created an agency to carry out bundled payments and other projects.

The rule would eliminate Medicare bundled payments to hospitals for heart attacks, bypass surgery, hip fractures, and femur fractures. The federal government also scaled back its bundled payment program for hip and knee replacements by proposing to trim the number of mandatory geographic areas in half.

Context: This was expected, as we detailed in Monday's Vitals. But the gravity is not diminished. Hospitals weren't thrilled about the mandatory nature of the pilot programs, yet some health policy experts have viewed bundled payments as worthwhile experiments that could temper Medicare costs.

Go deeper

38 mins ago - Health

COVID-19 drives smell loss awareness, research

A health worker carries out an olfactory test outside Buenos Aires. Photo: Alejandro Pagni/AFP via Getty Images

The pandemic has thrust a relatively unknown ailment, anosmia — or smell loss — into the international spotlight.

Why it matters: Researchers hope smell testing becomes as standard as the annual flu shot, helping to detect early signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Senate passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate voted 50-49 on Saturday to approve President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: COVID relief has been a central promise for Biden, and passing the sweeping package has been a major priority for the administration and congressional Democrats.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

Why we need to know COVID's origins

The WHO's headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Geopolitical tensions are foiling efforts to get to the bottom of how COVID-19 originated.

Why it matters: Insights into how COVID-19 began can help us prevent future pandemics — especially if it involved any kind of leak or accident at a virology lab.