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Medicare opens new push on hip, knee replacement

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare is launching an ambitious experiment changing how it pays for hip and knee replacements, to raise quality and lower costs.

The idea is to follow patients more closely to smooth their recovery and head off unwanted and costly complications.

Hip and knee replacements are the most common inpatient surgery for beneficiaries. Medicare will be using financial rewards and penalties to foster coordination among hospitals, doctors, and rehab centers, hoping to improve quality.

The new system goes into place starting Friday in 67 metro areas across the country, from Akron to Tampa Bay, from New York City to San Francisco. Those areas are home to millions of beneficiaries as well as about 800 hospitals.

Hospitals are on board, but orthopedic surgeons have some qualms. Consumer groups will be watching closely.

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