BALTIMORE, MD – In breaking news today, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that they are continuing their push toward bundled payments for hospitals and physicians. However, they also revealed that by bundled payments they are referring to, literally, wads of cash bundled up in regulation hospital blankets.
“Man, I can’t tell you how scared we all were. We thought our compensation was going to be slashed. When I heard the news I was so excited I had to take a hit of sevoflurane to calm down,” said anesthesiologist Dr. Jeffrey Cappadillo, referring to the expectation that bundled payments would have meant drastic pay cuts for certain specialty physicians.
CMS spokesperson Harvey Weinberg explained, “We were so sick of having to send out all those checks in envelopes. Do you know how many envelopes I have to lick as part of my job? My tongue has been sore for three straight years.”
He went on to explain that the new bundle system requires no envelopes and no licking. Cash is simply stacked up, rubber banded together, and swaddled in a blanket.
CMS workers were given a half day of training in correct swaddling technique. As it turns out it is the exact same method that is used for swaddling infants and thus all CMS workers with infants at home were excused from the training session and sent to Chucky Cheese for a celebratory lunch.
Asked if this meant that hospitals would still be paid for each service separately, Weinberg responded, “Absolutely. There is no limit on the number of bundles we will send for any given patient encounter.”
Asked to explain, Weinberg gave the example of a patient who went to the ER with a papercut on his finger and received a 30-second exam from an ER physician, a CXR (in case the papercut had led to lobar pneumonia) that a radiologist spent 15 seconds reading, an EKG (in case the stress from the papercut had led to a myocardial infarction) that a cardiologist spent 10 seconds reading, and received one Band-Aid from a dermatology resident.
Under the new system the ER physician would receive one hundred 5 dollar bills, the radiologist one hundred and fifty 10 dollar bills, the cardiologist one hundred and eighty 20 dollar bills, and the dermatology resident a buck fifty in pennies (but her attending would receive three hundred sixteen 50 dollar bills).
He also emphasized that these denominations were merely the default. Physicians will be able to choose whether to receive their cash in stacks of fives, tens or twenties, except for ophthalmologists and dermatologists who will be restricted to fifties or hundreds to keep the bulk of the bundle within reasonable limits.
Immediately following the announcement, a collective sigh of relief was heard from anesthesiologists and radiologists around the country. An unconfirmed report states that the banner headline on the next American Society of Anesthesiology Newsletter will be “A Bundle of Joy.”