Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

ACO Characteristics

In recent years, payers have moved towards shifting more financial risk to providers.  One of the most significant ways financial risk is passed to providers is through the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  The biggest ACO program is Medicare’s Shared Savings Program (MSSP).  Are ACO’s improving quality and reducing cost?  A paper by Schulz, […]

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Does your doc want to be in an ACO?

The answer is likely “It depends.”  To see why this is the case, let us consider the case of some proposed health reforms in Switzerland to force physicians into managed care (MC) networks.  As described in Rischatsch (2015): In 2012, Switzerland held a referendum…aimed at encouraging the nationwide development of MC networks. Among other changes…the legal […]

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Transitioning to Alternative Payment Models

CMS has stated that they want 30% of all fee-for-service payments to be transitioned to alternative payment models–such as pay for performance–in the upcoming years.  A future where all providers are paid capitation or based on some measure of value is not here yet.  And in the interim, providers are dealing with a complex system […]

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The Next Generation ACO

Medicare currently has two Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)–the more popular Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and the Pioneer ACO program. However, these ACOs have generated only limited cost savings. Only 11 of 23 Pioneer ACOs and 58 of 220 MSSP participants generated cost savings. To address some provider concerns and due to the limited cost […]

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A Medicaid ACO?

Medicare’s Shared Savings Program (MSSP) contracts with accountable care organizations (ACOs) to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries.  Reimbursement levels for these ACOs depends on quality and their ability to generate cost savings relative to the non-ACO national trend.  The goal is to align provider and payer incentives in improving quality and reducing cost. Would such a […]

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What does an ACO look like?

ACOs are all the rage, but what does a typical ACO look like ? A study by Shortell et al. (2014) attempts to answer this question using data from the National Survey of ACOs. This survey includes ACOs participating in Medicare, Medicaid, or commercial payer programs.  The authors consider eight attributes for creating an ACO taxonomy […]

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“The medical marketplace is broken”

This quote is from David Blumenthal, a physician and former Harvard Medical School professor, who was the national coordinator for health information technology between 2009-2011.  He describes in an interview for the Atlantic why adoption of electronic medical records has been so slow in the U.S. From the patient’s perspective, this is a no-brainer. The benefits […]

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Are ACOs working?

Maybe. An press release from CMS is very upbeat on ACOs. What do the numbers say? Farzad Mostashari and Ross White review the CMS report and find that results were mixed: Of the 114 ACOs in the program, 54 of the ACOs saved money and 29 saved enough money to receive bonus payments. The 54 […]

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A glitch in ACO beneficiary assignement?

For most managed care plans, beneficiaries elect to participate in the plan. In exchange, beneficaries often have lower premiums, but often restricted access to providers (e.g., referral requirements, copayment differentials for out-of-network physicians). Medicare’s Accountable Care Organizations (known as Shared Savings Plans (SSP)) also assign beneficaries to organizations. The SSPs are groups of providers that […]

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Accountable Care Organizations in Medicare

I have written numerous posts about the pros and cons of Accountable Care Organizations.  In 2012, Medicare begame allowing providers to form ACOs.  An article by Pope and Kautter provides an overview of the initiative. The Medicare program, which covers the elderly and disabled, is the largest medical insurance system in the USA. One major […]

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