FAH wants details on ‘safe harbors’ for ACOs
In a letter to the CMS, the Federal Trade Commission and HHS’ inspector general’s office, the Federation of American Hospitals offered comments on accountable care organizations after an ACO workshop that the three federal agencies hosted last month. Of particular interest, the letter noted, is whether—and how—the government would establish a safe harbor so qualifying ACOs can have a degree of certainty when dealing with commercial payers. The lack of a safe harbor “will retard the spread and potential benefits of ACOs, both in Medicare and the commercial market,” according to the letter. The reasons for this include that providers don’t set up their organizations solely to participate in Medicare, and building an ACO just for Medicare may be cost-prohibitive. Moreover, according to the FAH, the goals of the ACO effort—to improve care, lower costs and reduce the need for care through prevention—should benefit the population at large. California’s experience with ACOs has raised questioned over whether they save money (See story, p. 6).