Do Accountable Care Organizations Have Staying Power?

Recently, some physicians and health care administrators have expressed doubts about the viability of accountable care organizations (ACOs). Does this viewpoint stand up to scrutiny?

If you’re talking about the Medicare ACO program, as proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this past spring, the naysayers probably have a point. The proposed regulations attracted lots of scrutiny, criticism and recommendations for improvement from entities including the American Medical Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, industry thought leaders, physicians, administrators, and politicians.

By definition, an accountable care organization is an group of health care providers that agree to be accountable for the quality, cost, and overall care of assigned beneficiaries. Under this definition, there are already many entities in existence within Massachusetts and across the country that are already operating successfully as ACOs. Many organizations, physician groups and physicians are participating in enhanced risk based contracts with payers. In some cases, these groups have already improved their quality and financial results based on measured success in the area of cost and quality metrics.

These developments, combined with the CMS’ continued efforts to promote innovation through the Pioneer Program, provide evidence that the concept of integrated delivery organizations, like ACOs, are here to stay.

To learn more about ACOs, Accountable Care Delivery models and the things your practice can do to prepare join us on September 13 for our fall program A Path to Accountable Care Organizations: How Do We Get There From Here? Visit www.massmed.org/aco2011 for more information.

— By Kerry Ann Hayon
Manager, MMS Physician Practice Resource Center

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