What thought leaders are saying about ACOs

The initial reaction to the final rule for accountable care organizations (ACOs) seemed generally positive from providers. And now that the industry has had a few days to mull it over, more healthcare thought leaders are weighing in.

Academic medical centers (AMCs) approve the new ACO regs but still find them difficult to meet. "We believe that serving as the name brand 'advanced specialty care' provider for multiple ACOs will not be enough to sustain AMCs in the long term," Dr. Molly Joel Coye, chief innovation officer at UCLA Health System, told Accountable Care News.

"Instead, we believe that our best course, and perhaps that for some other AMCs, will be to embrace the ACO strategy for ourselves and develop long-term partnerships with other ACOs in which we must offer radically improved quality, service for patients and referring systems, and cost..." she said.

Nevertheless, providers commend the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for listening to the 1,320 comments it received and revising the provisions that got the most provider complaints.

"After preliminary review, the AMA believes this final rule includes a number of positive changes," said Dr. Peter Carmel, president of the American Medical Association.

And according to Daniel J. Marino, president and CEO of healthcare consulting firm Health Directions, perhaps that careful listening paid off. "The final regulations appear to create a nice balance between driving care coordination around patient quality outcomes to reduce costs, and not overburdening organizations with significant new infrastructure investments," he told Accountable Care News.

However, the success of the new rules can't be measured in reaction but in action.

The President of the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, D.C., Paul B. Ginsburg, still questions if the more balanced model will actually win over providers. "[W]hether CMS has truly succeeded in rescuing the centerpiece of the Administration's cost containment will depend on whether it gets the desired number of participating organizations," he said in Accountable Care News.

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