ACOs charge forward with or without Supreme Court support

No matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules this week on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accountable care is on the moving train of health reform.

Even if the high court comes back Thursday, rejecting Obama's 2010 plan, efforts to prevent readmissions, encourage provider-patient communication and preventative care will likely continue, the World Herald noted.

"It's virtually irrelevant for us as a provider organization," President and CEO Richard Hachten of Alegent Health, a Omaha, Neb.-based system, said about the verdict.

Providers note the new model can be a longer-term solution to quality care.

"Because it has to. It needs to," John Fraser, CEO of Methodist Health System in Omaha, said in the article. "The current situation is absolutely unsustainable."

Pioneer ACOs, in particular, have noted that the new payment system offers advantages.

"In some ways, it was actually kind of a relief that the system was going this way because we, probably like many systems, were beginning to be caught between the budgeted model and a fee-for-service model," David Arredondo, executive medical director of Presbyterian Medical Group in Albuquerque, N.M., said in The Hospitalist.

In addition to unsustainable healthcare spending, the goal for quality may be the biggest reason that providers continue to move toward accountable care. For instance, Advocate Health Care in Chicago--the largest commercial ACO--said its model, which includes case managers, already has helped improve outcomes, according to Forbes.

"After a successful first year, we saw significant improvements including better clinical outcomes, lower readmission rates, reduced costs and better coordinated care," Advocate Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Lee Sacks said. "Ultimately, our goal is to partner with the federal government to apply proven private sector solutions to address the unsustainability of the Medicare program."

For more information:
- here's the Hospitalist article
- listen to the Hospitalist interview (mp3)
- read the World Herald article
- see the Forbes article

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