White House pushes ACO expansion in 2014

The Obama administration will step up efforts to push accountable care organizations (ACOs) this year, according to MedPageToday.

The healthcare system "works so long as it's not just accessible but affordable," Jeanne Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy, said at AcademyHealth's National Health Policy Conference this week, MedPage Today reported. "As we face the challenges of 2014, hopefully, we do so not only in recognition that public policy can make a difference but that public policy has made a difference." 

Discussing the administration's priorities for 2014, Lambrew alluded to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, a division of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The Innovation Center's work involves many initiatives specific to the post-healthcare reform landscape, such as ACOs, patient-centered medical homes and bundled payments.

Although Lambrew didn't provide specifics, she said the administration will focus efforts on both ACOs and bundled payments in 2014. She added that the administration also wants to collaborate more with private insurers regarding payment and delivery systems, according to MedPageToday.

"We've heard too often that providers are trying to make advances toward more accountable, quality-based systems often to get mixed messages from payers," Lambrew said. "One of our goals in this coming year is to figure out how we can limit that in a collaborative way."

The federal government expressed high hopes for ACOs. Last week, a CMS report showed that Medicare and Pioneer ACOs saved nearly $400 million in 2012. Of the 114 ACOs established in 2012, first-year expenditures were lower than expected for 54, and more than half of those 54 generated savings of more than $126 million, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Outcomes show signs of ACOs' effectiveness as well. A study published in Health Affairs in January indicated that a drop in inpatient care has accompanied the proliferation of ACOs.

To learn more:
- here's the MedPageToday article