The Biden Administration is planning to offer bonuses to any doctors who “create and implement an anti-racism plan” in their medical facilities, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The directive was issued under new rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which aim to update Medicare in order to “reflect changes in medical practice.” As of January 1st, doctors involved in Medicare can increase reimbursement rates by holding “clinic-wide reviews” of their facilities’ “commitment to anti-racism.” HHS notes that, in such surveys, race must be defined as “a political and social construct, not a physiological one.”
“It is important,” the new rules read, “to acknowledge systemic racism as a root cause for differences in health outcomes between socially-defined racial groups.”
The initiative follows the precedent set by one of Biden’s first moves after assuming office. Shortly after his inauguration in January, Biden signed an executive order outlining a “whole-of-government equity agenda,” which includes, among other things, “equitable delivery of government benefits.”
The new race-based incentives will alter Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, the metric by which eligible doctors’ reimbursement rates are determined. This system was first implemented by Congress in 2015, and originally intended to reward medical professionals who provided the highest-quality and most cost-effective medical care. But this new “equity”-based system will shift the focus away from merit in favor of ideological conformity.
These new changes have already faced criticism from those who crafted the original 2015 system. Chris Pope, a scholar with the Manhattan Institute who, as a Hill fellow in 2015, helped draft the original legislation, pointed out that the original system was approved with bipartisan support. By contrast, the revisions are being done unilaterally, without the consent of Congress.
“Republicans who voted for it weren’t voting for this,” said Pope. “The idea that this would be used as a tool of racial policy never came up.”