Former HHS exec rips ACOs

Tevi Troy, former deputy secretary of HHS, took aim at the accountable care organization (ACO) rule in a commentary in yesterday's Weekly Standard and on National Public Radio.

Troy slams the 400-page rule for being scattershot and attempting to implement too many different, untried methods for savings. With "65 metrics for success," it may ultimately be impossible to track real financial or clinical outcomes, he posits.

He likens ACOs to the much-maligned HMOs of the 1990s, whose attempts to limit services as a way to control costs led to their unpopularity. "An ACO is an HMO on steroids, or perhaps on Red Bull," Troy quips.

With confusing rules, a slow regulatory pace, and a market anxious for answers, ACOs present the biggest opportunities for consultants and lawyers, rather than for patients or taxpayers, he declares. He even reveals a joke making the rounds in federal healthcare circles that "ACO stands for Awesome Consulting Opportunities." It's a trend we told you about at FierceHealthcare earlier this month, as well.

Troy predicts the ACO rules, with their "prescriptive approach" and complexity, will probably sink under their own weight, and will not ultimately save money or improve patient care.

To learn more:
- read the NPR/Weekly Standard commentary
- find out more about the Washington Post's ACO coverage