FAH wants de­tails on ‘safe har­bors’ for ACOs

Modern Healthcare - - Late News -

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).

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