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September 22, 2023

HHS: ‘No Scaling Back’ in ACO Proposal (CQ HealthBeat News)

HHS: ‘No Scaling Back’ in ACO Proposal (CQ HealthBeat News)
by John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat | Mar 28, 2011

A Health and Human Services official said Monday that “there is no scaling back” on implementing team-based care in Medicare through accountable care organizations, despite reports circulating that pilot testing will be emphasized before a broad national launch of ACOs.

“There is no scaling back. The statute calls for evaluating different types of ACOs,” said Chris Stenerud, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS.

Marilyn Tavenner, the principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Nashville Health Care Council on March 22 that a proposed ACO rule expected out this week would stop short of a broad nationwide rollout of ACOs and focus instead on establishing pilot programs, according to reports in the trade publications Modern Healthcare and McKnight’s.

Stenerud said, however, that a pilot test of a number of innovative ACO models “will take place concurrently with broader ACO implementation.”

The health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) calls for CMS to begin contracting nationally with qualifying accountable care organizations starting in January. ACOs are intended to spur doctors and hospitals and other combinations of providers to carefully coordinate treatment to lower costs and improve the quality of care.

In a transcription of the March 22 remarks provided by the Nashville Health Care Council, Tavenner says that “I have to remind everyone that before we would move to ACOs industrywide, we do need to test different models and make sure they work. So that will probably be the work that goes on, I would say, in 2012. And that’s not a pro or a con about it, it’s just frequently some of the old work in CMS had a long life cycle. So we need a shorter life cycle. But I suspect it, realistically, it will take us one to two years to evaluate a project so if we can start, and I’d love to see a large number of applications for the ACO, 100 or more is what we’re hoping for.”

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