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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2017 Nov;82:113-121. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2017.09.012. Epub 2017 Sep 21.

Design and impact of bundled payment for detox and follow-up care.

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The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, MS035, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453, USA. Electronic address:
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, MS035, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453, USA.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center 1211 Medical Center Dr, Nashville, TN 37232, USA; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, 1161 21st Ave S # D3300, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.



Recent payment reforms promote movement from fee-for-service to alternative payment models that shift financial risk from payers to providers, incentivizing providers to manage patients' utilization. Bundled payment, an episode-based fixed payment that includes the prices of a group of services that would typically treat an episode of care, is expanding in the United States. Bundled payment has been recommended as a way to pay for comprehensive SUD treatment and has the potential to improve treatment engagement after detox, which could reduce detox readmissions, improve health outcomes, and reduce medical care costs. However, if moving to bundled payment creates large losses for some providers, it may not be sustainable. The objective of this study was to design the first bundled payment for detox and follow-up care and to estimate its impact on provider revenues.


Massachusetts Medicaid beneficiaries' behavioral health, medical, and pharmacy claims from July 2010-April 2013 were used to build and test a detox bundled payment for continuously enrolled adults (N=5521). A risk adjustment model was developed using general linear modeling to predict beneficiaries' episode costs. The projected payments to each provider from the risk adjustment analysis were compared to the observed baseline costs to determine the potential impact of a detox bundled payment reform on organizational revenues. This was modeled in two ways: first assuming no change in behavior and then assuming a supply-side cost sharing behavioral response of a 10% reduction in detox readmissions and an increase of one individual counseling and one group counseling session.


The mean total 90-day detox episode cost was $3743. Nearly 70% of the total mean cost consists of the index detox, psychiatric inpatient care, and short-term residential care. Risk mitigation, including risk adjustment, substantially reduced the variation of the mean episode cost. There are opportunities for organizations to gain revenue under this bundled payment design, but many providers will lose money under a bundled payment designed using historic payment and costs.


Designing a bundled payment for detox and follow-up care is feasible, but low case volume and the adequacy of the payment are concerns. Thus, a detox episode-based payment will likely be more challenging for smaller, independent SUD treatment providers. These providers are experiencing many changes as financing shifts away from block grant funding toward Medicaid funding. A detox bundled payment in practice would need to consider different risk mitigation strategies, provider pooling, and costs based on episodes of care meeting quality standards, but could incentivize care coordination, which is important to reducing detox readmissions and engaging patients in care.


Alternative payment model; Bundled payment; Care coordination; Detox; Health care reform; Substance use disorders

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