Hospital physicians, outsourced physicians and most other patient care providers have expressed mixed feelings about anticipated changes to Medicare Accountable Care Organizations. However, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently redesigned ACOs, making them more physician-friendly.
“As many as 270 ACO networks are expected to participate in the Medicare pay model that encourages physicians and hospitals to coordinate patient care in a way that improves quality and saves the program money. From 2012 through 2015, Medicare could save an estimated $1.8 billion and let groups share in $1.3 billion in bonuses for hitting savings targets, thus saving Medicare a net of about $500 million,” as reported in a news article, published by “American Medical Association.”
“As the cost of forming an ACO is high, physician practices will also benefit from the new advance payment initiative created through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to provide financial assistance for physician-owned organizations,” said Dr. Peter W. Carmel, President of the American Medical Association.
The article further explained that a notable number of people representing physician services [through a series of letters] had expressed disapproval of the proposed ACO rule; this is what brought about the redesigned ACOs.
The American Medical Group Association conducted a survey of its members earlier this year and the results found that “93% of respondents said they would not participate unless the proposed rule underwent major revisions.”
“We are optimistic that the model will get rolled out nationally on Jan. 1, 2012, with sufficient participation to allow the promise of this ideal of better, less costly, more coordinated care will become a reality over time,” said Donald W. Fisher, President and CEO of The American Medical Group Association.
Only time will tell, but it seems patient care providers can find some comfort in this news; considering all of the uncertainty physicians have been facing, I’d consider this a step in the right direction.