HHS Offers New Initiatives To Add Momentum To ACOs

The so-called accountable care organizations are designed to encourage physicians and hospitals to better coordinate care. However, the Obama administration regulations regarding their formation have been met with stiff criticism.

The Hill: New HHS Initiatives Aim To Bolster Key Health Reform Provisions
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' health care 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 health care 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).

Kaiser Health News: Administration Offers New Path For ACOs
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold reports: "Facing strong criticism of the proposed regulation for accountable care organizations, the Obama administration announced new options Tuesday to lure hesitant doctors and hospitals" (Gold, 5/17).

The Washington Post: Administration Offers Early Start For New Medicare Arrangement
The Obama administration is trying to hasten the spread of new arrangements to coordinate and pay for the health care of older Americans, even as major groups of hospitals and doctors are skeptical of the government's plans (Goldstein, 5/17).

CQ HealthBeat: CMS Makes Three Quick Moves To Quell ACO Criticism
Medicare officials moved Tuesday on three fronts to quiet a growing chorus of criticism that has fueled doubts about whether a key program under the health care law to control Medicare spending — the formation of accountable care organizations — will ever get off the ground. But early reaction from groups representing two key players, hospitals and doctors, was tepid. Too many other problems remain with the proposed ACO rule, they said. "I think it's a positive step forward but pretty marginal. I don't think it's going to be a big game changer," said Lisa Grabert, senior associate director for policy at the American Hospital Association (Reichard and Norman, 5/17).

Denver Post: U.S. Boosts Effort For Elder's Health Care
The Obama administration is trying to hasten the spread of new arrangements to coordinate and pay for the health care of older Americans. Officials announced a program Tuesday under which medical teams and health systems could begin the "accountable care organizations" for Medicare patients by the fall (5/18). 

Modern Healthcare: CMS Announces Three ACO Initiatives
Almost two months after issuing its proposed rule (PDF) on accountable care organizations, the CMS on Tuesday announced three initiatives (PDF) the agency says will provide more options and incentives for providers to participate in ACOs. According to the CMS, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is accepting applications for the Pioneer ACO Model, which will be available this summer for those organizations that have already started coordinating care for patients. The CMS expects the Pioneer ACO Model to save the Medicare program about $430 million over three years (Zigmond and Evans, 5/17).

The Hill: Actuary: Cost Cutting Trumped Policy In Key Medicare Regulation
Cost cutting trumped policy considerations as federal regulators designed key health care reform regulations that many physicians and hospitals now say are too stringent, Medicare's chief actuary told The Hill. Over the past week, high-profile medical organizations including the Mayo and Cleveland clinics warned federal officials that they might not participate in the government's care coordination efforts because it would cost them too much. The Medicare agency on Tuesday unveiled three new initiatives aimed at bolstering accountable care organizations (ACOs), a key element of Democrats' health care reform law (Pecquet, 5/17). 

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