HHS Announces New Accountable Care Initiatives; Provider Backlash To ACO Rule Continues
The Hill: New HHS Initiatives Aim To Bolster Key Health Reform Provision
The Obama administration on Tuesday announced three new initiatives to encourage physicians and hospitals to better coordinate care after a key regulation came under intense criticism over the past week. Democrats' healthcare reform law seeks to transform the way government programs, such as Medicare, reimburse medical providers by rewarding them for quality rather than quantity of care. A key tool to get there are the so-called accountable care organizations (ACOs) that allow providers to keep a portion of the money they save Medicare by working together, but leading healthcare systems such as the Mayo Clinic and Geisinger have told the government that proposed ACO regulations are too stringent and costly for them to participate (Pecquet, 5/17).
Politico Pro: Initiatives Could Lessen ACO Reg Pressure
CMS Administrator Don Berwick said the new Innovation Center initiatives were not prompted by concern that the proposed ACO rules released in March could prove unworkable. And he said he is "confident" that an additional proposed ACO rule will not be necessary, as some in the health sector have begun to wonder. ... But the initiatives are being seen as a "two-fer for CMS," as one health industry lobbyist put it: "They can address some of the serious provider concerns with the ACO reg while following through on these alternative CMI models that have been planned for some time" (Feder, 5/17).
Related, earlier KHN story: FAQ On ACOs: Accountable Care Organizations, Explained (Gold, 3/31)
Earlier coverage focused on criticism that the price tags for ACOs will be too high.
The Hill: Hospitals Say ACOs Will Cost Millions More Than Expected
Hospitals want to see more money from integrated care systems established under health care reform, saying the programs will cost millions more than what Medicare projected. The American Hospital Association (AHA) said the Medicare agency dramatically underestimated the cost of establishing and running an accountable care organization, or ACO. Recent regulations on ACOs said they'll likely cost hospitals about $1.8 million in the first year (Baker, 5/16).